MADRID, Spain – The government has declassified intelligence documents it said would refute charges that it lied in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid bombings by insisting that Basque separatists (search) were responsible.
The 24 pages of documents released were compiled from Thursday, the day of the attack, through Sunday, the day of the election, Spain's National Intelligence Center (search), spokesman Eduardo Zaplana said.
"They will clear up any doubt about the information government had on those days," Zaplana said.
The government has been accused of misleading the public by insisting the armed Basque separatist group ETA was its prime suspect in the bombings that killed 201 people even as evidence started surfacing of a possible Islamic link.
Cadena Ser radio, which is close to Spain's incoming Socialist government, provided more evidence that it said suggested the government suspected an Islamic link even though publicly it pointed the finger at ETA.
The station said Thursday that prison wardens switched Driss Chebli (search), a jailed Al Qaeda (search) suspect allegedly linked to reputed Spanish cell leader Imad Yarkas, into solitary confinement on March 11 after the Madrid attacks, even as Interior Minister Angel Acebes insisted ETA was the main focus of the investigation.
Cadena Ser said it had obtained a document from Soto del Real prison, where Chebli is being held, detailing the order placing him in solitary confinement.
The ruling party lost Sunday's general election amid allegations that it had provoked the bombings and made Spain a target for Al Qaeda by backing the U.S.-led Iraq war.
"We can lose the elections but under no circumstances will we tolerate being called liars," Zaplana said Thursday at a news conference after a cabinet meeting.
Titled "11-M: The whole truth, in real time," the documents were broken into six sections, including a listing of events starting with the explosions themselves and a police report on a van found to contain detonators.
Two other sections are unsigned statements. One states that ETA was responsible and that there was no evidence of Islamic involvement. It was dated March 11, but carried no time of day.
A second statement, dated March 12 and lacking a time of day, deals with an alleged Al Qaeda statement claiming responsibility for the attack. It concludes that the author of the statement is linked to the Islamic extremists but lacks sufficient authority to speak on their behalf.
A government spokesman later confirmed that only the two unsigned statements are actually from the intelligence services. None of the 24 pages carried the National Intelligence Center letterhead.
The 10 blasts on four commuter trains began March 11 at 7:39 a.m.
Acebes said Thursday the government received at 3:51 p.m. a CNI report to the effect that it was "almost certain" that ETA was behind the attacks.
ETA issued two statements last week denying responsibility for the attacks.
Spain is serving a two-year term on U.N. Security Council. Just hours after the blasts, its 15 members unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the bombings "perpetrated by the terrorist group ETA" following lobbying by Foreign Minister Ana Palacio (search) and other diplomats.
The pages released to journalists Thursday included a copy of Palacio's telegram sent to ambassadors and consuls worldwide on the evening of March 11 in which she insisted ETA was responsible and complained that a political party in Spain was trying to cast doubt about this.