BUENOS AIRES ( Associated Press) — Police raided the hotel Tuesday where the Venezuelan and Iranian crew members of a plane that is being held at a Buenos Aires airport are staying to determine their identity and the reason for their arrival in the country.
The operation was ordered by federal judge Federico Villena. Images broadcast by local media showed the police during the early hours of the Hotel Plaza Canning, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, checking the bedrooms of the crew members of the flight that has generated suspicions. Meanwhile, crew members sat waiting in the corridors of the hotel.
The plane of the Venezuelan company Emtrasur has been parked at the Ezeiza international airport, near the Argentine capital, since June 6. Argentine authorities withheld the passports of the five Iranians who are among the at least 17 crew members of the aircraft.
Explaining this measure, Security Minister Alberto Fernández said the day before that after the plane landed in Argentina, the government received information from foreign intelligence agencies that warned that the Iranian crew belonged “to companies related to the armed forces.” Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds” who have been “deemed terrorists by the US Treasury Department.”
In addition, he explained, the government was informed that the aircraft was operated in the past by Mahan Air, a “company related to the Quds force.”
There are no red alerts or arrest warrants on any of the crew.
The Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) and the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA) have demanded “total clarification” of the reasons for the arrival of the aircraft.
Argentina was the target of two terrorist attacks: the first in 1992, which blew up the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, and the second in 1994, which destroyed the AMIA headquarters, which, according to local justice, were devised by the Iranian regime. . Several former Iranian diplomats and officials are subject to Interpol’s arrest warrants for the attack on the Jewish mutual.
The case has generated criticism from the opposition, who question why Argentina gave free rein to the plane’s entry.
The government has indicated that the aircraft was in Paraguay in May to look for a cargo of tobacco that was going to Caracas and Aruba, while Uruguay recently did not allow it to enter.
The head of the Federal Intelligence Agency, Agustín Rossi, said that so far no irregularities have been found among the crew members and called on the opposition not to link them to international terrorism. “It’s a shame what the opposition is doing… They are playing with the sensitivity of the (Argentine) people for the attacks,” the official told AM750 radio.
Rossi explained that the plane was transporting a load for different Argentine auto parts companies that are suppliers of automotive multinationals.
He indicated that the aircraft loaded the pieces in Mexico, passed through Caracas and arrived in Argentina on June 6 but had to land in the city of Córdoba because the weather conditions did not allow its arrival at the Ezeiza airport.
“The plane’s cargo was checked in every possible way. It was verified that the cargo that was declared was the one that was on the plane and the entire process continued as normal,” Rossi said.