EU countries knew of CIA prisons, rendition flights: European Parliament report

EU countries knew of CIA prisons, rendition flights: European Parliament report

[JURIST] Many European countries were aware that the US Central Intelligence Agency operated secret prisons [JURIST news archive] or used their territory for the transfer of terror suspects, according to a report [DOC text] released Tuesday by a European Parliament committee [official website] investigating the CIA's alleged use of European countries for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners. The committee's rapporteur, Italian MEP Claudio Fava [EP profile], said Tuesday that most countries cooperated with the CIA "passively or actively" [AFP report] and that evidence had been gathered showing 16 nations were involved – Austria, Bosnia, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The European Parliament investigation was launched after the existence of secret prisons [JURIST report] was first disclosed last year. President Bush publicly confirmed [JURIST report] the existence of the prisons in September, saying that the facilities were used to house high-value terror suspects [DNI backgrounder, PDF].

Fava also faulted most EU countries, Germany and Spain being the exceptions, for not fully cooperating with the European Parliament investigation. Following a meeting in Poland earlier this month, an MEP accused Polish officials of obstructing the probe [JURIST report], and Fava said Tuesday that almost all EU member states showed "very great reticence" to cooperate. Fava also faulted EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana [official website] for failing to provide full information to the committee. Nevertheless, Fava said there was evidence that 20 terror suspects had been subject to extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] and some 1,200 CIA flights stopped in or flew over European territory, some of which were likely prisoner transfer flights.

The European Parliament committee reached a conclusion similar to previous findings by Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe [official website]. In June, a COE study [PDF text] submitted by Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty reported that 14 European countries collaborated with the CIA [JURIST report] by taking an active or passive role in a "global spider's web" of secret prisons and rendition flights. BBC News has more.