June 7, 2006

Europe colluded in CIA prisoner “spider’s web”

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 aware or participated in 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 it said a number of states had
clearly colluded with the system of CIA secret flights and
secret transfers known as renditions.

Among the charges:-

* Poland and Romania ran secret detention centres

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

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

* 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
transfer/drop-off points


Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said the
report was false but many other governments have greeted the
report with silence.

"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 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."

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.

Marty said 10 cases involving 17 individuals had come to
light 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 to countries where they might face
torture by the United States since the September 11, 2001,

While the suspects' treatment "does not appear to reach the
threshold for torture, it may well be considered as inhuman or
degrading," Marty's 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.