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Cablegate: Odyssey Update: Dhs Delivers Customs Information

VZCZCXRO0848
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #1723 2501049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071049Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3350
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MADRID 001723

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/WE, L, AND OES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EWWT PBTS PHSA SCUL SP CA
SUBJECT: ODYSSEY UPDATE: DHS DELIVERS CUSTOMS INFORMATION

REF: MADRID 1670 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) On September 6, DHS-ICE Attache delivered the
Odyssey Customs import documents to Director of Aduanas
Nicolas Bonilla, as requested by GOS via the Customs Mutual
Assistance Agreement (CMAA) on July 24. The DHS-ICE Attache
advised Bonilla that the information was confidential and to
be used only for law enforcement purposes. Bonilla expressed
appreciation for the information, and assured the DHS-ICE
Attache that it would be used only for official purposes. He
added that Aduanas would make a formal request through DHS
channels before sharing the documents with any other GOS
agency. Post advised MFA representatives of this exchange
the afternoon of September 6.

2. (SBU) Separately, the MFA sent Post a diplomatic note
September 4 in response to the Ambassador's August 29 meeting
with Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos (ref). MFA
officials advised us verbally that they will seek the Odyssey
information through their Aduanas, acknowledging that Aduanas
would first have to seek the necessary permission from DHS.
Jorge Domecq, MFA's Deputy Director for Gibraltar Issues,
noted that MFA was interested in obtaining the Odyssey
customs information to provide to lawyers representing the
GOS in the Tampa Admiralty Court.

3. (SBU) Meanwhile, the Odyssey Explorer remains docked in
Gibraltar and has not yet unloaded its cargo. According to
British Embassy representatives, Odyssey representatives have
stated that the vessel will begin unloading its cargo the
week of September 10.

4. (SBU) Below is an informal translation of Foreign Ministry
diplomatic note 277/31 dated August 31, which was provided to
the Embassy on September 4.

Begin Text:

(complimentary opening)...and has the honor to refer to
Embassy Note Verbal No. 445 of 20 August 2007 on obtaining
the documents for entry into the United States of the objects
of archeological value brought up by the "Odyssey Marine
Exploration" from a wreck code-named "Black Swan."

In this regard, the Ministry wishes to reiterate to the
Embassy the request made for the above mentioned documents in
Note Verbal number 79 of 22 May 2007.

Furthermore, the Ministry seeks to inform the Embassy as
follows:

- On 24 July 2007, the Director of the Department of Customs
and Excise Taxes of the Tax Agency of Spain sent a letter to
the Director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection requesting
these documents pursuant to Article X of the Mutual
Assistance Agreement on Customs ("special assistance cases").
A copy of the letter is attached hereto.

-The documents are requested for the Tax Agency of Spain,
which is the agency responsible for the enforcement of
Spanish and Community customs legislation.

- The documents are requested to investigate the legality and
validity of the transfer to the United States of the two
shipments of coins and archeological material from Gibraltar
referred to in the attached document, and to enforce
compliance with all applicable Spanish legislation in this
area, take all appropriate judicial action and assert the
rights of the Government of Spain in all appropriate legal
venues.

- The Spanish Government will approach this matter with the
discretion and confidentiality that it applies to all its
relations with the U.S. Government...

(Complimentary closing)

End Text.
AGUIRRE

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