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Context of 'June 9, 2006: US Ambassador to Spain, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Discuss CIA Rendition Program'

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At around 7:00 a.m., Luis Garrudo Fernandez, a doorman for an apartment building in the town of Alcala de Henares, near Madrid, see three men behaving strangely near a white Renault Kangoo van parked near the local train station. The next day, he will tell the press, “When I saw them I thought they might be armed robbers or something like that… They were all covered up around their heads and necks, and it wasn’t even cold.” He gets close to one of them who is hurrying off towards the station. “All I could see was that he was wearing a white scarf around his neck and something covering the top of his head. You could only really see his eyes.” The others go to the back of the van and take out three big black rucksacks. Fernandez is unable to determine their ethnicity since he cannot see their faces clearly, but he suspects they are foreigners. Forty minutes later, bombs explode on four trains; the trains had started their journeys at the Alcala station (see 7:37-7:42 a.m., March 11, 2004). Fernandez soon tells a neighbor about the strange men. At 10:50 a.m., the neighbor calls the police. What the police find in the van will be the first lead in determining who is behind the train bombings. Fernandez claims the police soon come and inspect the van.
Immediately Told - He says they immediately tell him that they found bomb detonators and a cassette inside. The cassette contains exhortations from the Koran, but Fernandez will not remember them telling him anything about the cassette having an Arabic link. He is then driven to the police station, and on the way there a policeman tells him that he does not believe ETA, the Basque separatist group, is responsible. That evening at about 7:00 p.m., he is asked to look at a series of photographs of Arab suspects.
Contradictory Claim - However, this claim is later contradicted by a police report. While it is not denied that Fernandez gave the initial tip, the report says the van is not searched until about 3:30 p.m., after it has been moved to a different part of town. Eduardo Blanco, the police chief in Alcala de Henares, will later testify in support of the police report and will say that he is not told until that evening that detonators and an Arab cassette have been found in the vehicle. [Guardian, 3/13/2004; Daily Telegraph, 3/15/2004; Expatica, 7/6/2004; London Times, 7/7/2004] The discrepancy is important in determining just how quickly investigators begin to suspect Islamist militants and not ETA are behind the bombing.

Entity Tags: Luis Garrudo Fernandez, Euzkadi Ta Azkatasuna, Eduardo Blanco

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

US Ambassador to Spain Eduardo Aguirre meets with Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who warns him that a Spanish judge is investigating the CIA’s rendition program. High Court Judge Ismael Moreno opened the investigation based on a lawsuit filed by a group of lawyers in Mallorca. Aguirre will later report back on this conversation to the State Department in Washington (see June 9, 2006). “Moratinos indicated the Spanish government’s desire to give this issue as low a profile as possible, though, as a judicial case, the government had a limited capacity to influence the direction of the case,” he will write. The cable will later be obtained by WikiLeaks and published by the Spanish daily El Pais. [El Pais, 12/3/2010]

Entity Tags: Miguel Angel Moratinos, Eduardo Aguirre, Ismael Moreno, US Embassy in Madrid, US Department of State

Timeline Tags: US International Relations

US Ambassador to Spain Eduardo Aguirre meets with Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega to discuss the CIA’s use of Spain in its rendition program. De la Vega “emphasize[s] that Spain had no objection to United States government intelligence flights through Spanish territory.” According to a cable Aguirre drafts to summarize the meeting for the State Department in Washington, “[The Spanish government] simply want[s] to be kept informed and, if necessary, to be able to demonstrate that they [are] exercising proper oversight of foreign aircraft passing through Spain.” The previous day, the Council of Europe issued a report stating that the Spanish government had “permitted or failed to investigate” the use of Mallorca as a staging point for the “illegal” transfer of individuals by the CIA. It also accused a dozen European governments of conspiring with the US government in similar actions that the council said could be seen as contributing to human rights violations. “Regarding the CIA flights issue, […] de la Vega sa[ys] Spain’s inclusion in the Council of Europe report ha[s] caught the [Spanish] government totally off guard and she insist[s] Spain ha[s] nothing to hide on the issue,” writes Aguirre. The deputy prime minister tells the US ambassador that “Spain [is] prepared to deal with this issue, but want[s] to be certain that it ha[s] all the information available regarding the flights to avoid being caught unprepared.” In this respect, Aguirre writes that he told her “that we too ha[ve] an interest in preserving our credibility and were careful to share whatever information we ha[ve] and to avoid any actions that might create problems for the Spanish authorities.” The cable will later be obtained by WikiLeaks and published by the Spanish daily El Pais. [El Pais, 12/3/2010]

Entity Tags: Eduardo Aguirre, US Department of State, US Embassy in Madrid, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega

Timeline Tags: US International Relations

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