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UK denies Spain's Kissinger request

MADRID, Spain -- Britain has refused a Spanish judge's request for permission to question Henry Kissinger during the former U.S. secretary of state's visit to London this week.

Judge Baltasar Garzon, who is investigating crimes committed during military dictatorships in South America, asked the British authorities to allow him to question Kissinger, who is due to attend a convention on Wednesday.

A Home Office spokeswoman in London told CNN on Tuesday that the request had been denied.

Joan Garces, a Madrid-based lawyer involved in the investigation of former Chilean leader Gen. Augusto Pinochet, said the British authorities were told by the U.S. State Department that Garzon should send his request to interview Kissinger to Washington.

The U.S state department's response "can only raise questions about what Mr. Kissinger has to hide," Garces said in a statement.

He added: "It is unfortunate that Mr. Kissinger seems more committed to obstructionism than to uncovering the truth about international terrorism and Operation Condor."

Kissinger was former U.S. President Richard Nixon's National Security Advisor from 1969-1973 and secretary of state between 1973-1977.

Garzon wants his testimony in connection with his alleged involvement in "Operation Condor," a concerted plot by former military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to persecute and eliminate their opponents during the 1970s and 1980s.

Garzon has said Kissinger is not a suspect in the case and that he only wants him to answer questions as a witness.

'Rights abuses'

Garzon, a National Court magistrate, is investigating accusations against Pinochet of genocide and international terrorism.

He is also probing the disappearance of hundreds of Spanish citizens in Argentina during the military rule between 1976-83.

Kissinger's visit to Britain, to address the Institute of Directors (IoD) at the Royal Albert Hall, has already caused controversy in the UK.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) tabled a House of Commons motion on Monday expressing the hope "that his presence in Britain will be used as an opportunity for the police to interview him regarding allegations of human rights abuses during Operation Condor in Latin America in the 1970s".

"We believe that Kissinger's involvement in the coup in Chile in 1973 and in support of the military regimes in the region places him in a unique position to give insight into the perpetrators of these abuses of human rights," the motion added.

Corbyn claimed there was "deep concern" at Westminster that Kissinger had been invited to speak at the IoD conference.

Also on Monday, British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell failed in his attempt to have Kissinger arrested in Britain for alleged war crimes.

Tatchell applied to London's Bow Street Magistrates' Court for a warrant for the arrest of Kissinger under the Geneva Conventions Act.

Tatchell alleged that Kissinger's direction of the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s amounted to a breach of British laws requiring people of all nationalities to observe the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war.

But at the court hearing, District Judge Nicholas Evans told Tatchell that he needed the UK Attorney General's consent to proceed and that "there is nothing I can do."


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