Uruguayan lawmakers of the opposition Frente Amplio (FA - Broad Front) Tuesday announced they would summon Defense Minister Javier García before Congress' Defense Committee to explain why he had banned from national airspace the Venezuelan-Iranian Boeing 747-300 now held in Buenos Aires.
FA lawmakers Mario Bergara, Sandra Lazo, and Alejandro Sánchez, who are members of the Defense Committee, argue that the only information they have on the incident was that released through the media.
The former Mahan Air aircraft was denied a landing permit last week. It was under scrutiny after being red-flagged by US intelligence claiming it might be involved in military and terrorism operations worldwide under the guise of cargo transport.
García has said he decided not to authorize the aircraft to enter the airspace due to information provided by the Ministry of the Interior. I gave the order for it not to enter, Garcia assured. When I received the information from [Interior Minister Luis] Heber, there was no request from the humanitarian point of view, that's why the entry into the airspace was not authorized and it meant that it returned to the Buenos Aires airport, he said.
Meanwhile, in Argentina, Federal Judge Federico Villena ordered the hotel rooms of the aircraft's crew be searched. Since they are not under arrest, they are staying at a hotel in the Ezeiza area, although their passports have been withheld and they have been banned from leaving the country.
Before precautionary measures were taken, they could not leave on their Emtrasur aircraft because nobody was willing to refuel it.
The Iranian crew's cell phones, notebooks, and documents have been seized during the police raid at around 1 am. Other hotel guests have complained about the noise, according to Buenos Aires media.
Uncorroborated rumors that went viral on social media claimed the 747 was carrying Iranian and Venezuelan guerrilla fighters to stage an uprising as the country's economy weakens by the hour.
Federal Prosecutor Cecilia Incardona is leading the probe, but so far no possible crime has been detected to charge the members of the crew, let alone a clue to link any of them with international terrorism. Judge Villena also ordered all proceedings to be held under a seal of secrecy.