Last Updated: 9/12/06
Secret Prisons

Europe led collusion on secret CIA prisons: report

By Jon Boyle
June 7, 2006

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 said.

"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 said.

"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 centres

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

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

* 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 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.

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.

Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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