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Swede photographed suspected CIA plane

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19:54 CET+01:00
A photograph taken by a Swedish plane enthusiast has confirmed that a Hercules plane which is suspected of having been used by the CIA for prisoner transportation landed at Stockholm's Arlanda airport in May 2003.

Now a Europe-wide investigation will be launched into the alleged CIA flights.

The plane came from the Helsinki airport, Vanda, on May 16th. According to the Finish paper, Borgåbladet, it is owned by the company Prescott Support, which has been linked to the US government.

The Finnish news agency FNB reported that the flight was registered as US embassy freight transport. According to an international agreement, the authorities do not need to provide information about the contents of the cargo.

Before Vanda, the plane was in Frankfurt and flight enthusiasts have tracked it in Malaysia, the US, Iceland, Malta and the Azores.

Swedish plane spotter Daniel Fall took a picture of the plane at Arlanda on May 17th 2003.

"This plane was extremely unusual. As far as I know it had never landed in Sweden before," said Fall to TT.

Aircraft expert Lars Olausson told TT that this particular Hercules was missing a production number at maker Lockheed for the eleven years up to 1996.

"That could indicate that the plane was ordered by an American agency," said Olausson.

Today the plane is registered with the number N8213G at the Federal Aviation Authority.

The European reaction to the suspected CIA planes is becoming more united. On Wednesday the Council of Europe decided to launch an inquiry. The Council's 46 member states, including Sweden, will deliver a report on suspected flights to the appointed commission before February 21st next year.

The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly is already investigating the allegations of secret prisoner transportation by the CIA in Europe. A similar investigation is ongoing within the framework of the EU.

The Hercules plane has often been seen landing in Frankfurt. A German aircraft photographer who was given permission to take a picture of the cockpit in December 2002 told TT that, in his opinion, the plane "was clearly something to do with the military".

Onboard were civil jeeps and a dozen men "in civilian clothes with crewcut hair", according to Ulrich Hoppe, who was not allowed to photograph the storage area.

Hoppe's picture has been distributed on a number of the biggest web sites for flight enthusiasts.

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TT/The Local

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