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CIA plane story unfounded - Freivalds

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13:35 CET+01:00
Foreign minister Laila Freivalds has dismissed claims that CIA planes could have landed at Swedish airports.

Speaking to the Norwegian news agency NTB during a visit to Oslo, Freivalds explained that new information removed the question marks around the issue.

"This whole story is as flat as a pancake," she said to NTB.

She was referring to the latest details about the American plane which landed at Örebro airport on 21st June 2002. The plane is owned by Richmor Aviation, a private company which had been associated with transporting prisoners to the Guantanamo base in Cuba.

The company's managing director, Mahlon Richards denied to TT on Thursday that the Örebro flight had anything to do with the CIA.

"That was a private flight," he said.

On TV4's Nyheterna programme, Richards said that the flight was a private family trip to a wedding in Sweden.

The plane landed at Arlanda on 21st June 2002, flew on to Örebro and then took off for Keflavik in Iceland on 23rd June.

The reason for the stopover was that the party wanted to see the Swedish countryside, claimed Richards.

According to Richmor's standard tariff, such a journey would cost around three million Swedish kronor.

Freivalds did not comment on how the new information from Richmor's managing director about a wedding trip to Örebro explained why a Raytheon Hawker jet, which has also been linked to the CIA's prisoner transportation, landed at Malmö's Sturup airport on 9th September this year.

Plane spotters also report having seen the plane in Dubai, Slovenia, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore. According to the US Federal Aviation Authority, the plane is owned by Wells Fargo Bank. The bank owns several planes, including a Boeing 737 which landed at the Guantanamo base in April 2004.Foreign minister Laila Freivalds has dismissed claims that CIA planes could have landed at Swedish airports.

Speaking to the Norwegian news agency NTB during a visit to Oslo, Freivalds explained that new information removed the question marks around the issue.

"This whole story is as flat as a pancake," she said to NTB.

She was referring to the latest details about the American plane which landed at Örebro airport on 21st June 2002. The plane is owned by Richmor Aviation, a private company which had been associated with transporting prisoners to the Guantanamo base in Cuba.

The company's managing director, Mahlon Richards denied to TT on Thursday that the Örebro flight had anything to do with the CIA.

"That was a private flight," he said.

On TV4's Nyheterna programme, Richards said that the flight was a private family trip to a wedding in Sweden.

The plane landed at Arlanda on 21st June 2002, flew on to Örebro and then took off for Keflavik in Iceland on 23rd June.

The reason for the stopover was that the party wanted to see the Swedish countryside, claimed Richards.

According to Richmor's standard tariff, such a journey would cost around three million Swedish kronor.

Freivalds did not comment on how the new information from Richmor's managing director about a wedding trip to Örebro explained why a Raytheon Hawker jet, which has also been linked to the CIA's prisoner transportation, landed at Malmö's Sturup airport on 9th September this year.

Plane spotters also report having seen the plane in Dubai, Slovenia, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore. According to the US Federal Aviation Authority, the plane is owned by Wells Fargo Bank. The bank owns several planes, including a Boeing 737 which landed at the Guantanamo base in April 2004.

Freivalds' comments raised questions about the investigation into the issue launched by the government on Thursday. If the government represented by Freivalds considers the matter closed, the inquiry is pointless.

"The government has instigated an inquiry which it is overseeing. Freivalds can say what she likes - but it is right that the inquiry fulfils its obligation," said the Moderate politican and member of the parliamentary constitutional committee, Göran Lennmarker.

"You can't just brush this aside with a telephone call. You have to check what's happened. It is extremely important to clarify this - we can't have a situation where foreign countries send planes to Sweden on what is effectively national service," he said.

"If there is now clear evidence that this is not the case, then the inquiry will quickly be able to show that," said Lennmarker to TT.

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TT/The Local

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