June 7, 2006

Europe led collusion on secret CIA prisons: report

By Jon Boyle

PARIS (Reuters) - More than 20 states, mostly in Europe,
colluded in a "global spider's web" of secret CIA prisons and
transfers of terrorism suspects, a European rights watchdog
said in a report released on Wednesday.

Middle Eastern and Central Asian nations played a role in
the network run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and
European governments were not unwitting victims of the
operation, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe

"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," Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty

"Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to
know," he said in the conclusions of the 65-page report
released on the body's Web site.

While the report admits it has "no formal evidence" of
secret CIA detention centres, a number of states had clearly
colluded with the system of CIA secret flights and secret
transfers known as renditions.

They include:-

* Poland and Romania on the running of secret detention

* Germany, Turkey, Spain, Cyprus and Azerbaijan were being
"staging points" for flights involving the unlawful transfer of

* Ireland, Britain, Portugal, Greece and Italy for being
"stopovers" for flights involving the unlawful transfer of

* Sweden, Bosnia, Britain, the former Yugoslav republic of
Macedonia, Germany and Turkey were cited in relation to cases
involving specific individuals

* Cairo, Amman, Islamabad, Rabat, Kabul, Guantanamo Bay,
Tashkent, Algiers and Baghdad also served as detainee
transfer/drop-off points


Scottish lawmakers called for Britain to come clean about
its role in the renditions affair, while Polish Prime Minister
Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said the report was slanderous.

"These accusations are slanderous ... They are not based on
any facts and that is all I know and all I have to say,"
Marcinkiewicz told reporters in parliament.

Despite finding 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

Flight data provided in January and February from
Eurocontrol helped uncover the web of flights, detention
centres and stop-off points used in the U.S.-devised system.

Ten cases involving 17 individuals had come to light said
Marty but many of the Council of Europe's 46 member states had
been reluctant to provide information. More cases could follow.

EU investigators said last month they believed 30 to 50
people had been handed over by the United States since the
September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.

While the suspects' treatment "does not appear to reach the
threshold for torture, it may well be considered as inhuman or
degrading," his report added. The pan-European rights body can
name and shame countries but cannot launch legal proceedings.

The allegations of CIA abuses, first made by newspapers and
human rights groups late last year, fanned concerns in Europe
about U.S. anti-terror tactics. But European governments are
now under scrutiny due to mounting evidence they at best turned
a blind eye to illegal activities.

Washington insists it acted with the full knowledge of the
governments concerned, acknowledges the secret transfer of some
terrorist suspects between countries and denies any wrongdoing.