CIA and 14 European Nations Colluded Over Rights Abuses

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The New York Sun

PARIS – Fourteen European nations colluded with American intelligence in a “spider’s web”of human rights abuses to help the CIA spirit terror suspects to illegal detention facilities, a European investigator said yesterday.

Swiss senator Dick Marty’s report to Europe’s top human rights body was thin on evidence but raises the possibility of a cover-up involving both friends and critics of Washington’s war on terror. It says European governments “did not seem particularly eager to establish” the facts.

The 67-page report, addressed to the 46 Council of Europe member states, will likely be used by the rights watchdog to pressure countries to investigate their suspected role in American rendition flights carrying terror suspects.

Mr. Marty’s claims triggered a wave of angry denials but also accusations that governments are stonewalling attempts to confront Europe’s role in the flights.

“This report exposes the myth that European governments had no knowledge of, or involvement in, rendition and secret detentions,” said lawmaker Michael Moore, a foreign affairs spokesman for Britain’s second opposition party, the Liberal Democrats.

In the strongest allegations so far, Mr. Marty said evidence suggests planes linked to the CIA carrying terror suspects stopped in Romania and Poland and likely dropped off detainees there, backing up earlier news reports that identified the two countries as possible sites of clandestine detention centers.

America did not respond directly to the report, but officials in Romania and Poland vigorously denied the accusations.

“This is slander and it’s not based on any facts,” Poland’s prime minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, told reporters in Warsaw.

But the leader of Poland’s “Stop War” movement protesting the Iraq war, Filip Ilkowski, said the Polish government was trying to thwart European Union investigators.

“It is hard to say whether prisoners were dropped off here, but from what we know, U.S. planes landed in Poland outside the official channels. The gov ernment has done nothing to clarify the matter, it is doing everything to cover it up,” Mr. Ilkowski said.

Prime Minister Blair also denied the collusion allegations and said Mr. Marty’s report contained no new evidence.

“I have to say, the Council of Europe report has absolutely nothing new in it,” he told lawmakers.

The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, stressed that America does not condone or practice torture,adding, “we will not agree to send anybody to a nation or place that practices torture.”

“International cooperation in the war on terror is essential for winning,” Mr. Snow said, “and rendition is not something that began with this nation, and it’s certainly going to be practiced in the future.” He also noted, “Carlos the Jackal, you may recall, by rendition ended up in a French jail.”

Mr. Marty, investigating the flights since November, said the 14 European nations – along with some other countries including Iraq, Morocco, and Afghanistan – aided the movement of at least 17 detainees who said they had been abducted by American agents and secretly transferred to detention centers around the world.

Some former detainees said they were transferred to the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and others to alleged secret facilities in countries including Egypt and Jordan. Some said they were mistreated or tortured.

“I have chosen to adopt the metaphor of a global spider’s web, a web that has been spun out incrementally over several years using tactics and techniques that had to be developed in response to new threats of war,” Mr. Marty said.

In his investigation, Mr. Marty – a former prosecutor – relied mostly on flight logs provided by the European Union’s air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, witness statements gathered from people who said they had been abducted by American intelligence agents, and judicial and parliamentary inquiries in various countries.

He concluded that several countries let the CIA abduct their residents.

The New York Sun

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