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Europe rights watchdog says CIA prisons, rendition flights involve ‘web’ of nations
Europe rights watchdog says CIA prisons, rendition flights involve ‘web’ of nations

[JURIST] Fourteen European countries collaborated with the US Central Intelligence Agency by taking an active or passive role in a "global spider's web" of secret prisons and rendition flights, Swiss legislator Dick Marty said Wednesday in a report [PDF text] from the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe [official website], as part of the CoE's investigation into alleged secret detention centers [CoE materials] and illegal rendition flights [JURIST news archive] operated by the CIA in Europe. In the report, Marty concludes:

280. Our analysis of the CIA 'rendition' programme has revealed a network that resembles a 'spider's web' spun across the globe. The analysis is based on official information provided by national and international air traffic control authorities, as well as on other information including from sources inside intelligence services, in particular the American. This 'web', shown in the graphic, is composed of several landing points, which we have subdivided into different categories, and which are linked up among themselves by civilian planes used by the CIA or military aircraft.

281. These landing points are used for various purposes that range from aircraft stopovers to refuel during a mission to staging points used for the connection of different 'rendition circuits' that we have identified and where "rendition units" can rest and prepare missions. We have also marked the points where there are known detention centres (Guantanamo Bay, Kabul and Baghdad…) as well as points where we believe we have been able to establish that pick-ups of rendition victims took place.

282. In two European countries only (Romania and Poland), there are two other landing points that remain to be explained. Whilst these do not fall into any of the categories described above, several indications have us believe that they are likely to form part of the 'rendition circuits'. These landings therefore do not form part of the 98% of CIA flights that are used solely for logistical purposes, but rather belong to the 2% of flights that concern us the most. These corroborated facts strengthen the presumption – already based on other elements – that these landings are detainee drop-off points that are near to secret detention centres. …

284. It must be emphasised that this report is indeed addressed to the Council of Europe Member states. The United States, an observer state of our Organisation, actually created this reprehensible network, which we criticise in light of the values shared on both sides of the Atlantic. But we also believe to have established that it is only through the intentional or grossly negligent collusion of the European partners that this "web" was able to spread also over Europe.

285. The impression which some Governments tried to create at the beginning of this debate – that Europe was a victim of secret CIA plots – does not seem to correspond to reality. 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. Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know. …

287. Whilst hard evidence, at least according to the strict meaning of the word, is still not forthcoming, a number of coherent and converging elements indicate that secret detention centres have indeed existed and unlawful inter-state transfers have taken place in Europe. I do not set myself up to act as a criminal court, because this would require evidence beyond reasonable doubt. My assessment rather reflects a conviction based upon careful examination of balance of probabilities, as well as upon logical deductions from clearly established facts. It is not intended to pronounce that the authorities of these countries are 'guilty' for having tolerated secret detention sites, but rather it is to hold them 'responsible' for failing to comply with the positive obligation to diligently investigate any serious allegation of fundamental rights violations.

Marty referenced the cases of 17 detainees who claim they were kidnapped by US agents and transported to facilities around the globe, including in Romania and Poland. Romania and Poland both deny any wrongdoing [JURIST report], though Marty accused both countries of avoiding his requests for information and failing to adequately investigate the accusations on their own. Marty said that flight logs seemed to substantiate the allegations but also acknowledged that he had no direct proof.

The European Parliament [official website] is also conducting its own investigation [JURIST report] and members of that committee have indicated that more than 1,000 CIA flights stopped in Europe [JURIST report] since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly at the end of June will debate Marty's report and an accompanying draft resolution calling on CoE member states to review their laws that regulate intelligence services and bilateral agreements with the US to "ensure that these agreements conform fully to applicable international human rights norms." AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.