VIENNA, Austria – An opposition politician called on Thursday for a wider investigation into possible CIA flights over Austria and accused U.S. intelligence of running a de facto covert airline he derisively dubbed "Kidnap Air."
The lawmaker, Peter Pilz of the Green Party, urged the public prosecutor's office to get involved, insisting there was probably more than one flight over Austria.
"If the U.S. government authorities believe they have the right to kidnap people and transport them over European borders, that must have consequences in all member states of the European Union," Pilz told reporters.
On Wednesday, Austria's air force commander said a CIA transport plane suspected of carrying terrorist suspects flew over the country on its way to the Central Asian nation of Azerbaijan on Jan. 21, 2003.
Josef Cap, the parliament floor leader for the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, demanded Thursday that Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel lodge a formal protest with President Bush. Schuessel is to visit the White House on Dec. 8.
The Council of Europe, the continent's main human rights watchdog, is looking into 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.
Spain's foreign minister said Thursday the government had investigated at least 10 stopovers by U.S. private planes described in media reports as being operated for the CIA but had no evidence any laws were broken.
"The government has nothing to hide," Miguel Angel Moratinos told parliament, but he did not say whether Spanish authorities believed the planes were making CIA flights.
Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, meanwhile, said reports the CIA used his country's airports to transfer suspects were worth investigating. But he said during a visit to London that he had no information that "any unnecessary episodes" had taken place in Poland.
He did not commit himself to establishing a Polish inquiry. "This matter is being addressed by the European Union, and we trust the European institutions," he said.
In Bucharest, a top European human rights official urged Romanian lawmakers Thursday to investigate reports the CIA set up clandestine detention centers in the former communist country.
Rene van der Linden, who heads the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, said he hoped all 46 Council of Europe member states would start such investigations.
Human Rights Watch named Romania's Kogalniceanu air base as a possible location for a secret CIA detention center, citing flight logs showing suspected CIA planes made stops there. The Romanian government vehemently denied the base was used for such a purpose.