Italy aims to install full-body scanners at the main airports of Rome and Milan for flights considered at high risk of terrorist attacks, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said in an interview published on Saturday.
Maroni, speaking after last week's failed plot to bomb a U.S. passenger jet, told Corriere della Sera newspaper that he favored the swift introduction of the scanners, which can see through clothing to spot hidden explosives or weapons.
We have the resources ready to acquire them but we must overcome the opposition of European privacy agencies, the minister said.
Maroni has convened a meeting with officials Italy's civil aviation authority ENAC on January 7 to find a solution, he said. The Netherlands and Nigeria have already said they will use full-body scanners at airports.
Our intention is to install them quickly at (Rome's) Fiumicino and (Milan's) Malpensa (airports), he said.
Initially, scanners will be used only for flights considered at high risk, he said. The monitor for the device will be kept in a separate room, viewable only by a member of security staff.
Maroni said authorities were investigating reports that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old accused of trying to bomb Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit last week, had spent time in Italy before the failed attack.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government has raised security levels, Maroni said.
Last week, the North African branch of al Qaeda said it was responsible for the mid-December kidnapping of two Italians in Mauritania, citing Italy's participation in the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan as its motivation.
(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; editing by Robin Pomeroy)