A Swiss investigator has reported to the Council of Europe that the U.S. is responsible for "individuals [having] been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards," CBS (with AP) reported Tuesday. -- Dick Marty told a news conference the believed all prisoners had been moved to in early November. -- (Dana Priest of the Washington Post broke the story of secret CIA "black sites" on European soil on Nov. 2.) -- Marty said he believed prisoners had been taken to Morocco. -- Marty's investigation is ongoing; he is seeking logbooks of flights and satellite photos of the Sczytno-Szymany airport in NE Poland and the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in eastern Romania, among other things. -- Bloomberg News noted that Marty's investigation had begun on Nov. 23, and that the Council of Europe is " the continent's oldest political organization, founded in 1949." -- Reuters reported that Marty said "it was hard to believe that certain governments and secret services in Europe had not cooperated with the CIA," and while he named no particular nations, he said "his findings justified continuing an in-depth inquiry," noting "that not all -- including his home country Switzerland -- appeared to be [cooperating fully with the investigation]." -- He also said that he "deplores the fact that no information or explanation had been provided on [the allegations] by Ms. Rice during her visit to Europe," he said. -- The EU Observer described Marty's allegations somewhat more aggressively, emphasizing the illegality of U.S. actions: "A Council of Europe report has reinforced suspicions that the U.S. intelligence agency the CIA has detained suspected Islamic terrorists without proper judicial procedure, and violated sovereignty laws in Europe," wrote Teresa Kuchler and Lucia Kubosova from Strasbourg. -- The EU Observer also noted that "the European Parliament is planning to set up its own temporary committee to deal with the allegations of secret jails and CIA flights in Europe." -- Alluding to future political consequences for Poland and Romania (though without mentioning them by name), an EU legislator said: "It is obvious that if these allegations are confirmed, the candidate countries involved in such activities would face consequences relating to their accession process," because "the issue relates to the basic political conditions, the so-called 'Copenhagen criteria,' laid out for countries that wish to join the EU." ...
CIA PRISONS MOVED TO NORTH AFRICA?
CBS News (with AP)
December 13, 2005
[PHOTO CAPTION: Dick Marty, the Swiss senator leading a European probe into alleged secret CIA prisons in eastern Europe.]
A Swiss investigator probing claims of secret CIA prisons in Europe said his committee has evidence that supports allegations that prisoners were transferred between countries and temporarily held "without any judicial involvement."
"Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards," lawmaker Dick Marty said in a written report summarizing his investigations so far.
Marty told a news conference he believed the United States was no longer holding prisoners clandestinely in Europe and he believed they were moved to North Africa in early November, when reports about secret U.S. prisons first emerged in The Washington Post. He did not provide any other details.
He presented his findings in Paris to a committee of the 46-nation Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog.
The council says it will continue its investigation and is urging all member governments to do likewise, reports CBS News correspondent Elaine Cobbe. The council includes both EU and eastern European countries, including Poland and Romania, where it's alleged the CIA has secret prisons.
Marty added that "information gathered to date reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries."
He is investigating the CIA's reported transfers of prisoners through European airports to secret detention centers, actions that would breach the continent's human rights principles.
"Based on what I have been able to learn, currently there are no secret detainees held by the United States in Europe," Marty told a news conference in Paris, adding that he believed prisoners had been taken to Morocco.
Marty, in his report, added it is "still too early to assert that there had been any involvement or complicity of member states in illegal actions."
He was critical of the United States for not formally denying the allegations. He said he "deplores the fact that no information or explanations" were provided by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who faced repeated questions about the CIA prison allegations on her recent visit to Europe.
Rice has said the United States acts within the law and argued that Europeans are safer because of tough U.S. tactics, but she refused to discuss intelligence operations or address questions about clandestine CIA detention centers.
Marty has requested air traffic log books to try to determine flight patterns of several dozen suspect CIA airplanes. He has also requested satellite images of the Sczytno-Szymany airport in northeastern Poland and the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in eastern Romania, after they were identified by Human Rights Watch as possible sites of clandestine CIA detention centers. European officials say such prisons would violate the continent's human rights principles.
After hearing Marty's presentation, Tony Lloyd, a member of the Council of Europe committee, said: "The really difficult thing is the idea is that there is a kind of legal black hole in the middle of Europe."
EUROPEAN INVESTIGATION OF CIA CITES INDICATIONS PEOPLE ABDUCTED
By Kevin Costelloe
December 13, 2005
A Council of Europe investigator looking into whether the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency established secret prisons in Europe said there are indications that "individuals had been abducted."
The 46-nation council, which advocates human rights and respect for the law, has opened a formal inquiry into the CIA's handling of suspected terrorists.
"Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards,'' council investigator Dick Marty said in a report released today. "It had to be noted that the allegations had never been formally denied by the United States."
The council said on Nov. 23 that it was opening the investigation into reports the U.S. secretly held terrorist suspects in Europe and used European countries as transit points for the detainees.
Marty said today that "the information gathered to date reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries."
The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, is the continent's oldest political organization, founded in 1949. Its aims include defending human rights, parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law. It also aims to develop continent-wide agreements to standardize member countries' social and legal practices, according to its Web site.
CIA SECRET PRISONS REPORTS CREDIBLE: INVESTIGATOR
By Timothy Heritage
December 13, 2005
PARIS -- A month-old investigation has reinforced allegations the CIA ran a network of secret prisons in Europe, abducted prisoners, and transferred them between countries, a European human rights investigator said on Tuesday.
Swiss senator Dick Marty, who is looking into the scandal for the 46-nation Council of Europe human rights watchdog, criticized the United States for failing to come clean over the allegations.
But he said his main mandate was to look into the actions of European states and that it was hard to believe that certain governments and secret services in Europe had not cooperated with the CIA -- in breach of their human rights obligations.
Pressure is growing on Washington and European governments to explain dozens of flights criss-crossing the continent by CIA planes, some suspected of delivering prisoners to jails in third countries where they may have been mistreated or tortured.
"Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards," Marty said in a written statement after briefing the Council of Europe's legal affairs and human rights committee in Paris.
"The . . . information gathered to date (has) reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries."
Marty said in the statement that his findings justified continuing an in-depth inquiry, but he declined to give any details at a news conference.
He urged all member governments to cooperate fully with the investigation, adding that not all -- including his home country Switzerland -- appeared to be doing so.
SECRET SERVICES INVOLVED?
The European Union and at least eight member states said last month they were seeking answers from the United States over the use of bases on the continent for secret prisoner transfers, known as "renditions."
The Council of Europe has set governments a three-month deadline to reveal what they know about the mystery flights and about a Washington Post report saying the Central Intelligence Agency ran secret prisons in Eastern Europe.
"I find it hard to believe these actions could have taken place without a degree of collaboration or passivity by governments or services operating under them. I am thinking of the secret services," Marty said.
It was possible, he added, that the secret services had not informed their governments of any cooperation with the CIA.
Marty said the United States had never formally denied the allegations and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had failed to reject them during a recent trip to Europe.
"The rapporteur . . . deplores the fact that no information or explanation had been provided on this point by Ms. Rice during her visit to Europe," he said.
Human Right Watch, an international watchdog, has named Poland and Romania as two countries where the CIA may have kept prisoners. Poland and Romania have denied the accusations.
Marty said any prisoners held in Europe had now been moved elsewhere by the CIA, including to north Africa.
SECRET CIA FLIGHT ALLEGATIONS CREDIBLE, SAYS HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG
By Teresa Kuchler and Lucia Kubosova
December 13, 2005
STRASBOURG -- A Council of Europe report has reinforced suspicions that the U.S. intelligence agency the CIA has detained suspected Islamic terrorists without proper judicial procedure, and violated sovereignty laws in Europe.
Meeting in Paris on Tuesday (13 December), representatives of the 46-member-strong human rights watchdog Council of Europe (CoE) studied progress of an inquiry into alleged American secret detention centers and clandestine prison transport.
"The elements we have gathered until today strengthen the credibility of the allegations concerning transport and temporary detention of persons outside all judiciary procedures in Europe," Dick Marty, the CoE's rapporteur on the matter, said in a statement.
The Swiss liberal politician was appointed last month to examine the existence of alleged secret American detention centers for terror suspects.
Mr. Marty urged all governments to commit themselves fully to establishing the truth about flights over their territories in recent years by aeroplanes carrying individuals arrested and detained without any judicial involvement.
EU vice-commissioner Franco Frattini told MEPs on Monday that he had asked for flight logs from the Brussels-based air safety organization Eurocontrol and satellite images over air bases in north-eastern Poland and eastern Romania from the EU's main satellite center in Spain, to help the investigation.
MEPs STEP IN
Meanwhile, the European Parliament is planning to set up its own temporary committee to deal with the allegations of secret jails and CIA flights in Europe.
The conference of parliamentary group presidents will debate the issue on Wednesday, with most group leaders supporting the idea of a special body to add to the investigations spearheaded by the Council of Europe.
The Socialist leader Martin Schultz told journalists on Tuesday that the parliament's role was to find out to what extent the EU bodies or member states have been involved in the activities which allegedly resulted in infringements of human rights.
Several European countries have monitored CIA flights over their territories, while a U.S. paper and a leading human rights NGO reported the presence of secret prisons located in eastern Europe.
"It is obvious that if these allegations are confirmed, the candidate countries involved in such activities would face consequences relating to their accession process," said Mr. Schultz.
He explained that the issue relates to the basic political conditions, the so-called "Copenhagen criteria," laid out for countries that wish to join the EU.
Without naming specific countries, Mr. Schultz was clearly referring to Romania, which, along with Poland, had previously been earmarked by the Human Rights Watch group as a potential location of secret CIA prisons.
AGAINST THE TIDE
Despite secretary of state Condoleezza Rices assurances in Brussels last week that the US does not condone inhumane acts or torture, an increasing number of EU member states are trying to find out whether the CIA has been violating sovereignty and anti-torture laws in Europe.
Polish prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz announced this weekend that his country would look into whether it had been the European center of a secret CIA prison network.
EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini told MEPs on Monday that he had received an official reply from the Romanian prime minister, denying accusations that his country was host to secret prisons.
"I have no reason or intention to put any doubt on the statements" of both Romania and Poland, Mr. Frattini said.
The commissioner also suggested that he prefers that EU institutions co-operate with the Council of Europe, rather than launch their own investigation.
"There's a high risk of overlapping and even undermining the inquiry of the Council of Europe", he warned.
Parliament's own legal service has also questioned the idea of a special parliamentary 'inquiry committee,' arguing that, as there is currently no indication of a breach of EU law, there is no legal base for such a committee.
However, as several MEPs expressed their wish to be more pro-active on the matter, the political group leaders are this week likely to agree on establishing a temporary committee, albeit with less investigative powers.