Swiss senator Dick Marty said that 14 European nations worked with US intelligence agents to transport and detain terrorist suspects. Calling it a “spider’s web” of abuses, he put particular blame on Romania and Poland for acting as transit points for Washington’s war on terror. But Marty, presenting his 67-page report for the Council of Europe, the continent’s top human rights watchdog, said he had no concrete evidence to back up his allegations.
“Even if proof, in the classical meaning of the term, is not as yet available, a number of coherent and converging elements indicate that such secret detention centers did indeed exist in Europe,” he said according to the Associated Press. “It is now clear… 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.”
For his investigation, Marty has sifted through flight logs provided by the European Union’s air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, statements from people saying they had been abducted by US intelligence agents, and parliamentary inquiries. From that he deduced that many countries let the CIA abduct people and others let the agency use their airspace for flights whisking suspects to so-called “black sites” where they may have been subject to torture or other human rights abuses.
According to the AP, Marty put airports in Timisoara, Romania, and Szymany, Poland, in a “detainee transfer/drop-off point” category, together with 8 airports outside Europe. A total of 14 European countries — Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Bosnia, Macedonia, Turkey, Spain, Cyprus, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Poland — were designated as being complicit in “unlawful inter-state transfers” of people.
The report could increase pressure on some European countries to investigate the charges further. Marty used the case of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen wrongly abducted and held for months, to illustrate the CIA’s “renditions circuit” in reference to the US policy of so-called extraordinary renditions.
A plane numbered N313P in service of the US government plane arrived in Timisoara from Kabul, Afghanistan, on the night of Jan. 25, 2004. After apparently picking up al-Masri in Afghanistan, the plane spent 72 minutes in Timisoara and then flew to Palma de Mallorca.
“Having eliminated other explanations — including that of a simple logistics flight — the most likely hypothesis of the purpose of this flight was to transport one or several detainees from Kabul to Romania,” Marty said in the report, according to the AP.
Al-Masri, who was abducted in Skopje, Macedonia, thinks he was held in an Afghan prison for months before being released. A US federal court rejected the case he brought against former CIA director George Tenet and other spy agency employees for kidnapping, torture and mistaken identity, arguing it would risk exposing national security secrets that are key to Washington’s efforts to battle terrorism. Der Spiegel