Germany’s foreign minister expressed concern about allegations that clandestine CIA flights carrying terror suspects may have passed through Frankfurt airport.
There was no indication whether Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier would raise the issue on Tuesday, when he is expected to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials.
The German newspaper Berliner Zeitung reported on Saturday that CIA aircraft used European airports at least 15 times this year. The newspaper, which did not identify the source of its information, also said the U.S. military’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany was a hub for CIA flights from 2002 to 2004.
The Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights watchdog, is looking into the reports that the CIA set up secret jails in some European nations and transported terror suspects by covert flights. It has urged governments to fully provide information on the issue.
The council, Europe’s main human rights watchdog, began investigations after reports from the Washington Post and Human Rights Watch.
“What you can read there would indeed be a cause for concern,” Steinmeier told the Bild am Sonntag weekly in remarks released Saturday.
The United States has not confirmed the existence of the secret prisons, and Eastern European countries deny knowledge of covert facilities.
Romania’s former president Ion Iliescu reiterated those denials on Saturday, saying the allegations by Human Rights Watch that the Romanian air base of Mihail Kogalniceanu could have served as such a facility were “irresponsible.”
The base was used by the U.S. military during 2001-2003 to transport troops and equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I don’t have knowledge that such a thing existed” in Romania, Iliescu said, adding that as head of state he would have been informed of all important matters involving national security.