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Flight path of terror suspects questioned

| Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005

BUCHAREST -- American planes carrying detainees from the U.S. prison for terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may have made refueling stopovers in Romania, the country's former defense minister suggested in an interview published Saturday.

It was the first time a senior Romanian official who would have had access to information about U.S. military activity in Romania has acknowledged that prisoners may have passed through the country.

In his remarks to the daily Evenimentul Zilei, however, Ioan Mihai Pascu indicated that any such stopovers would not amount to evidence that the CIA was running a secret prison for al-Qaida suspects on Romanian soil, as has been alleged.

He said Romania's Supreme Defense Council, the country's top defense body, never received a request from the CIA to operate such a prison in the country. He added, however, that there had been "intense collaboration" between Romanian and American intelligence services, without elaborating.

While Romanian officials have denied the existence of a secret CIA prison, they have been vague about the issue of possible transit of prisoners through Romanian territory. On Nov. 3, Human Rights Watch said it had evidence indicating the CIA transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

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