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CIA flights: Portuguese government's assurances "not sufficient"

The chair of the Temporary Committee investigating allegations of illegal CIA activity in Europe says the assurances an EP delegation received from the Portuguese government that there was no evidence of such activity in Portugal were "not sufficient."

Speaking at the end of a two day visit to Lisbon, Carlos Coelho said the Portuguese government and parliament needed to investigate further. The delegation of six MEPs was in Lisbon on 5 and 6 December 2006. They met members of the Portuguese parliament, including the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs Osvaldo de Castro, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Luis Amado, as well as representatives of the Instituto Nacional de Aviação Civil (INAC), the Navegação Aérea de Portugal (NAV) and the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF).

Commenting on the delegation's meeting with Amado, Carlos Coelho said: "His assurances that so far there is no evidence of illegal activities in Portugal - in connection with CIA rendition flights - are not sufficient. National governments have the positive obligation to investigate whenever substantial allegations exist." "Both the Portuguese government and parliament need to perform further investigations", added Coelho.

"It is obvious that either there have been insufficient rules for the control of aircraft using Portuguese airports, or existing provisions have not been appropriately implemented; in short, we need to assure better information on passengers who travel in private commercial planes in the future." He later said: "The Portuguese government has acknowledged that the current system is not working properly and intends to take steps to close those gaps." The work of the Temporary Committee will come to a close with its adoption of a final report, scheduled for 23 January 2007. The report will be then by put to the vote at the plenary session of Parliament in February. (EP Press)