November 14, 2005

EU says states could face sanctions for CIA jails

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - There is no evidence any
European Union state has housed secret CIA detention centers,
but any EU country that has could face sanctions, the 25-nation
bloc's top justice official said on Monday.

Franco Frattini, European Commissioner for Justice and Home
Affairs, said no evidence had proven allegations that the U.S.
intelligence agency has been hiding al Qaeda captives at
facilities in Eastern Europe, as reported in the Washington
Post earlier this month.

"Were these events to have occurred, then clearly this
would constitute a grave infringement of the values and rules
of the European Union," he told lawmakers at the European

"Such a serious breach, where it is proven, may lead to
serious political sanctions being taken against a member state
of the European Union."

Human Rights Watch has identified Romania and EU member
Poland as two countries possibly operating such jails. Romania
is a candidate to join the EU.

Both have assured the European Commission that there are no
CIA jails on their territory.

EU lawmakers pressed Frattini to start a more formal,
in-depth investigation into the allegations, but he said such
an inquiry went beyond the Commission's powers.

The Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights
watchdog with no institutional relationship to the EU, opened
an investigation into the issue earlier this month.