GENEVA: Switzerland suspects the CIA of using Swiss air space while transporting Abu Omar, an Egyptian imam allegedly abducted by the U.S. spy agency in 2003, the Swiss justice ministry and police said Saturday. Justice Minister Christoph Blocher last week informed the government that an investigation has led to suspicions concerning the transport of Abu Omar, the minister s spokesman Livio Zanolari told AFP, noting that the investigation was not finished. According to the German-language newspaper Blick, a preliminary report by the justice ministry indicated that the CIA in all likelihood used Swiss air space for its alleged operation to kidnap the Islamist radical in Milan, Italy. Zanolari however denied that there was any preliminary report. Blocher simply conveyed information verbally to the government on the state of the investigation, the spokesman said. Known as Abu Omar, Osama Mustafa Hassan was formerly the imam of the Milan mosque. The United States suspected him of being involved in terrorist activities, and he was abducted three years ago – allegedly by a CIA commando unit that flew him to Egypt as part of the agency s practice of rendition, whereby terror suspects are taken to countries where they may be tortured. In a report to the Council of Europe on CIA flights, made public in June, the Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty had referred to the Abu Omar affair and its link to Switzerland. Marty cited an investigation by Italian authorities that showed that Abu Omar was transported … by plane from the Aviano air base (in Italy) to the Ramstein base in Germany, passing through Swiss air space, on a flight confirmed by Swiss air traffic controllers.
Saturday Zanolari did not wish to say whether there was any link between the current inquiry and Marty s report. In June the Swiss government had objected to Marty s criticism of his country as being servile to the United States.