June 7, 2006
Europe colluded with CIA over prisoners – watchdog
By Jon Boyle
PARIS (Reuters) - More than 20 mostly European countries
colluded in a "global spider's web" of secret CIA jails and
flight transfers of terrorist suspects stretching from Asia to
Guantanamo Bay, a rights watchdog said on Wednesday.
Central Intelligence Agency's well-oiled system did not involve
torture but amounted to a form of "legal and judicial
apartheid" that could exacerbate Muslim anger and spawn new
The United States maintained a stance of neither denying
nor confirming the allegations but challenged the credibility
of the Council of Europe's report. Some European governments
denied breaking laws, while others were silent or went on the
European governments have faced embarrassing allegations
over cooperation with U.S. policies unpopular with domestic
opinion. It has fueled perceptions some were ready to ignore
national laws due to U.S. pressure to back the war on
Marty said in the report many of the Council's 46 member
states had provided limited cooperation with his inquiry, but
witnesses, plane enthusiasts, confidential sources and flight
records had helped him partially lift a "veil of silence."
"It is now clear -- although we are still far from having
established the whole truth -- that authorities in several
European countries actively participated with the CIA in these
unlawful activities," said Marty.
"Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to
know," he said, adding he had amassed a great deal of
circumstantial evidence of secret CIA detention centres but had
"no formal evidence."
"NAME AND SHAME"
The Council can "name and shame" countries but cannot
launch legal proceedings, the preserve of judicial authorities
in member states.
Washington says it acted with the full knowledge of the
governments concerned, acknowledges the secret transfer of some
terrorist suspects between countries and denies any wrongdoing.
"There seem to be a lot of allegations (in the report) but
no real facts behind it," State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack told reporters in Washington, adding cooperation
between countries had saved lives in the war against terrorism.
Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz told
reporters: "These accusations are slanderous. They are not
based on any facts and that is all I know and all I have to
The report said:
* Poland and Romania ran secret detention centres
* Germany, Turkey, Spain, Cyprus and Azerbaijan were
"staging points" (from where operations were launched) for
flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees
* Ireland, Britain, Portugal, Greece and Italy were
"stopovers" (for refueling) for flights involving the unlawful
transfer of detainees
* Sweden, Bosnia, Britain, the former Yugoslav republic of
Macedonia, Germany and Turkey handed over suspects
* Cairo, Amman, Islamabad, Rabat, Kabul, Guantanamo Bay,
Tashkent, Algiers and Baghdad served as detainee
Despite the lack of "smoking gun" evidence, Marty said
there were a "number of coherent and converging elements (that)
indicated that secret detention centres have indeed existed and
unlawful inter-state transfers have taken place in Europe."
Marty said 10 cases involving 17 individuals had come to
light but many of the Council's member states had been
reluctant to provide information. More cases could follow.
Last month, EU investigators said they believed 30 to 50
people had been handed over to countries where they might face
torture by the United States since the September 11, 2001
Allegations of CIA abuses, first made by newspapers and
human rights groups late last year, fanned concerns among many
in Europe about U.S. anti-terrorism tactics.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee this month approved
legislation that would require U.S. intelligence chief John
Negroponte to report to Senate and House of Representatives
panels about any secret prisons or detention facilities.