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EU to investigate reports of secret CIA prisons in Europe

[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] said Thursday that it plans to investigate allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] is using a Soviet-era compound in eastern Europe as part of a secret prison system [JURIST report] to hide and interrogate al Qaeda suspects. The allegations stem from a Washington Post report Wednesday which quoted former and current intelligence officers who admit to the covert prison operation, but administration officials refuse to confirm or deny the allegations. An EU spokesman said the commission's 25 member nations will be informally questioned about the possible facility, since such a prison could violate the European Convention on Human Rights [text] and the Convention Against Torture [text]. Leaders from Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia have all denied that there is a CIA base in their countries, although Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] says it has gathered evidence [ABC Australia report; HRW report, PDF] indicating that the CIA uses planes to transport prisoners in Afghanistan to secret detention facilities in Poland and Romania. The Czech Republic's Interior Minister, however, has confirmed that the US government asked Prague [Prague Daily Monitor report] to house Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] prisoners from a Chinese province [JURIST report] who faced danger if returned to their home countries, but Czech authorities refused the request due to potential security risks. AP has more.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross [official website] on Thursday called for access to all foreign terror suspects held by the US. ICRC spokesperson Antonella Notari said that the ICRC is concerned about "the fate of an unknown number of people... held at undisclosed places of detention" and that "access to detainees is an important humanitarian priority for the ICRC and a logical continuation of our current wor in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay." Reuters has more.

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