April 26, 2006

CIA kidnapped terrorism suspects in EU: lawmaker

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A senior EU lawmaker on Wednesday
backed accusations the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had
kidnapped and illegally detained terrorism suspects on EU
territory and flown them to countries that used torture.

"The CIA has, on several occasions, clearly been
responsible for kidnapping and illegally detaining alleged
terrorists on the territory of (EU) member states, as well as
for extraordinary renditions," Claudio Fava said in his first
interim report of the European Parliament's probe into the
suspected CIA abuses.

Fava told a news conference that more than 1,000 flights
operated by the CIA transited through the EU, with Spain being
the only EU country to ask questions about these flights.

A Washington Post report that said the CIA had run secret
rendition flights and secret prisons in Eastern Europe for al
Qaeda suspects unleashed a spate of investigations which had so
far failed to produce a "smoking gun."

The parliamentary inquiry, which has heard testimony from
alleged victims and rights groups, has no legal powers, but the
committee will recommend what political action should be taken
against any countries found to have been involved, including
the United States.

Earlier this month the Council of Europe, a human rights
organization also investigating the alleged CIA abuses, said at
least one European state had admitted handing over terrorism
suspects to foreign agents, and that there was evidence
pointing to the existence of secret flights.

After hearing several from the alleged victims of
kidnapping and renditions, the interim EU lawmakers' report
comes to the same conclusions.

Fava said it was unlikely several European governments were
unaware of the CIA activities, specifically pointing to Italy,
Sweden and Bosnia.

The senior lawmaker, responsible for drafting the European
Parliament's committee report, said laws in the EU on secret
services and monitoring foreign aircraft were insufficient.

However, some lawmakers disagree with Fava's findings so

"There are many indications of suspicious undertakings, but
... second-hand testimonies and rumors are not enough. We need
facts," Danish conservative Gitte Seeberg said in a statement.


Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro has said a CIA team seized
terror suspect Abu Omar off a Milan street in 2003 before
flying him to Egypt, where he would have been tortured. Fava
said it was hard to believe the Italian authorities were
unaware of it.

Fava's report criticized Sweden for handing over in 2001
two Egyptian terrorism suspects to U.S. agents, who flew them
to Egypt. Human Rights Watch said there was credible evidence
they were later tortured.

He also criticized Bosnia for handing over six men of
Algerian origin to the CIA.

"These men have been taken illegally to Guantanamo, where
they have been since January 2002," Stephen Oleskey, their
lawyer who testified on Tuesday before the EU lawmakers, told

EU lawmakers will go to Macedonia on Thursday to probe the
arrest of German citizen Khaled el-Masri in 2003.

They will go to Washington in early May, to try to meet
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and CIA chief Porter Goss.