Renditions: Portuguese government admits knowledge of CIA flights

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On 6 September 2006, the Portuguese foreign affairs minister, Luís Amado, told a parliamentary hearing that the government was aware of the existence of CIA flights between the airport of Santa María in the Azores and the US prison-base of Guantánamo. Referring to information provided by Eurocontrol to the European Parliament's inquiry that is investigating flights used for "extraordinary renditions" that passed through airports in EU countries, which includes details of three flights linking Santa María airport and Guantánamo, Amado stated that "the information from Eurocontrol is the same as the Portuguese government has".

Two flights landed in the Azores after leaving Guantánamo, in November 2003 and July 2004, and one travelled in the opposite direction (also in July 2004). Amado also confirmed that the Portuguese government will continue to cooperate with the EP's investigating committee. Socialist MP Vera Jardim argued that in spite of knowledge of these flights, it is a different matter to know that CIA flights were transiting through the Azores' airport, and another to know what mission they were carrying out. The revelations were prompted by MEP Ana Gomes, who had stated on 5 September that Amado's predecessor as foreign affairs minister, Henrique de Freitas, whose social democratic party was part of the centre-right government coalition at the time of the flights, had sent her a letter in which he admitted the existence of direct flights between Portugal and Guantánamo. Further "suspect" flights also travelled between Santa María and airports in Morocco, Libya and Tajikistan.

Diario de Noticias, 7.9.2006; El Público, 6.9.2006; El País, 6.9.2006.

See also: Document n. 187 of the documents submitted to the European Parliament Inquiry, Contribution of the Rapporteur: Research on the planes used by the CIA - highly detailed 72 page report See also: Statewatch Observatory on rendition 

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