Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 1 News List

EU report says 11 nations knew about CIA prisons

COVER-UP A committee has concluded that several European governments turned a blind eye to US `anti-terror' operations carried out on their soil

AP , BRUSSELS

Britain, Poland, Italy, Germany and seven other EU nations were aware of the running of secret CIA prisons in Europe, according to a European Parliament report.

The draft report, written after months of a special committee investigation and released on Tuesday, also accused senior EU officials, including EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, of not coming clean about the alleged US-run secret jails and secret abductions of terror suspects across the EU. The report criticized EU anti-terror coordinator Gijs de Vries and Solana of "omissions and denials" made during their testimonies to the committee.

The draft, presented to the EU assembly's special committee investigating alleged CIA kidnappings and prisons in Europe, called on national authorities to launch separate legal probes into claims whether their national security services were involved and whether state authorities violated EU human rights laws.

No EU governments have admitted that the alleged anti-terror operations were being carried out on their soil.

Governments have been warned by EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini that if they were found to have known of the CIA renditions and secret flights they could face lawsuits for violating EU law.

While thin on proof to back up their allegations, the committee report claimed it got information from secret documents and information from several sources, including recorded information from an informal meeting of EU and NATO foreign ministers on Dec. 7 last year, which included US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"The temporary committee has obtained, from a confidential source, records of the informal trans-Atlantic meeting ... confirming that member states had knowledge of the program of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons," the report said.

It said further evidence was taken from additional records of other meetings between EU and senior US State Department officials during the first half of this year.

"At least 1,245 flights operated by the CIA have flown into the European airspace or stopped over at European airports," the draft said.

Vice-chair of the parliamentary committee, British Liberal Democrat Sarah Ludford said the EU now had to take action against member states to force them to acknowledge information.

"If the EU's aspirations to be a human rights community have any meaning whatsoever, there must now be a forceful EU response to this strong evidence that the CIA abducted, illegally imprisoned and transported alleged terrorists in Europe while European governments ... turned a blind eye," she said.

Human rights group Amnesty International called on EU governments to implement safeguards "to ensure that such human rights violations cannot happen again."

The report said 11 EU nations -- Britain, Poland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus -- had knowledge of the alleged US secret anti-terror measures taking place on European soil.

It said the committee had "circumstantial evidence" showing that Poland may have hosted a detention center for the CIA.

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