- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 1160 Hour
- Reading permission
Switzerland is a nuetrel country. They didn't even take sides in WW2 when the Nazis were ovetaking Europe. But the actions of Americans involved in the war on terror are just too much for them today.|
December 16, 2005
Swiss Open Criminal Probe of CIA Flights
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 5:33 p.m. ET
BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- Switzerland has opened a criminal investigation into whether suspected CIA flights violated Swiss laws by carrying terror suspects through the country's airspace, officials said Friday.
Mark Wiedmer, spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor's Office, said the investigation was launched earlier this week, but that prosecutors ''were aware of the difficulties'' they will probably face in obtaining information from Washington.
''The investigation is in connection with the alleged CIA overflights,'' Wiedmer told The Associated Press.
Last month, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said it had asked the United States about allegations that clandestine CIA planes carried terror suspects through its airspace, landing four times at Geneva's airport.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in the Swiss capital, Bern, said a response was still pending.
''We have taken the request and forwarded it on to the State Department,'' said Daniel Wendell.
According to the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation, U.S.-registered planes suspected of being used by the CIA crossed Swiss airspace on at least 73 occasions since 2001.
One plane, registered to Defense Department, flew across the country twice on Feb. 17, 2003, on a flight from Ramstein, Germany, to Aviano, Italy, and back again to Ramstein.
Italian prosecutors reportedly have identified the plane -- a Learjet 35 with the call sign SPAR92 -- as being used to fly a Muslim cleric allegedly abducted by American agents that day in Milan, Italy, to Ramstein, from where he was taken on another plane to Cairo.
Italy has issued arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA agents accused of involvement in the alleged 2003 kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Nasr's Egyptian defense lawyer claims the cleric was tortured after he arrived in Egypt.
Wiedmer said the timing of the flights and the alleged kidnapping played a role in the opening of the Swiss investigation.
Several European countries, as well as the Council of Europe -- the continent's main human rights watchdog -- are investigating claims that the CIA shipped prisoners through European airports to secret detention centers, in breach of international and national laws.
Dick Marty, a Swiss lawmaker and the lead investigator in the council's probe, has singled out the Swiss government as doing little to investigate, possibly to avoid a dispute with Washington for political or economic reasons.