EU states did run secret CIA jails, new report says
08.06.2007 - 09:22 CET By Helena Spongenberg
Polish and Romanian security officials have confirmed to Europe's human rights watchdog that the two countries hosted secret and illegal CIA prisons, while the watchdog also says that EU member states were aware of CIA kidnappings and rendition flights, UK daily the Guardian has reported.
In a new report by the Council of Europe – set to be published on Friday (8 June) if adopted by the council delegates – senior Polish and Romanian security officials have confirmed, despite official denials by their governments, that their countries used to hold in secret some US prisoners captured after the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001.
There is "now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA [existed] in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania," the report concludes.
The author of the report - Swiss MP Dick Marty - also found that NATO signed a deal with the US within weeks of the 9/11 attacks allowing civilian jets used by the US intelligence service during its so-called extraordinary rendition programme to move across member states' airspace."We have sufficient grounds to declare that the highest state authorities were aware of the CIA's illegal activities on their territories," he states in the report and goes on to say that the agreement may have been illegal, according to the European Convention on Human Rights underpinning the 46-member council.
It is Mr Marty's second report on the CIA rendition programme in Europe, which allegedly took place between the end of 2001 until 2005, although one of the notorious CIA planes has been spotted refilling gas in Norway and Iceland in January this year."My first report focused mainly on illegal inter-state transfers and extraordinary renditions. This second report will focus mainly on the other part of my mandate – secret detentions," he said in a statement on the council website ahead of the release of the report.
The first report – published exactly a year ago – found that several European countries acted as stepping stones in the CIA practice of abducting and transporting terrorist suspects to secret detention centres.
Rendition missions were launched from airports in Germany, Spain, Turkey and Azerbaijan, while airports in Ireland, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic were used for re-fuelling, the report adds.
Abductions were said to have taken place in Sweden, Macedonia, Italy and in Bosnia, where detainees were either dropped off or transferred further to Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Romania, Uzbekistan and Poland, among other countries.
Justice commissioner Franco Frattini indicated in 2005 that EU member states hosting secret CIA jails could face sanctions if the allegations were found to be true, saying that member states risk "serious consequences, including the suspension of the right to vote in the council [the EU member states decision-making body]. "All EU member states are also member of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.
US president George Bush admitted in September last year that his country's intelligence service runs secret prisons for terrorist suspects, but he refused to say where they were located.
CIA on trial in Italy
In the meantime, the first criminal trial over the CIA's extraordinary rendition program is set to open in Italy also on Friday.
Twenty-six US citizens and six Italians – most of them believed to be CIA or Italian agents - are accused of kidnapping an Egyptian terror suspect and sending him to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured. The North Americans will be tried in absentia and Italy has not yet announced whether it will seek their extradition to the Milan trial.