Strasbourg — An investigator for Europe's leading human rights watchdog accused America yesterday of "gangster tactics" in its war on terrorism, notably the illegal transfer of terrorist suspects to countries likely to torture them.
Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, told the Council of Europe that the US, with European complicity, had shipped possibly more than 100 suspects to countries where they faced torture.
"The entire continent is involved," Mr. Marty told its parliamentary assembly.
He presented colleagues with an interim report dominated by newspaper cuttings and buttressed with evidence from an Italian inquiry into the alleged 2003 kidnapping by the CIA of a radical Egyptian cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, in Milan.
Mr. Marty said it was "highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware" of such abductions.
He accused Britain of particular complicity on the basis of a leaked secret memo from Sir Michael Wood, the chief legal adviser to the Foreign Office. In the 2003 memo Sir Michael asserted that there was no legal barrier to using foreign intelligence obtained under torture.
The document was handed to Mr. Marty and the Council of Europe by Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who has become a fierce critic of British foreign policy. Giving evidence to the Strasbourg assembly, he said that, as envoy in Tashkent after September 11, 2001, he read CIA intelligence, shared with MI6, derived from torture sessions.
Later he said Britain was "much more deeply implicated" than other European nations in CIA extraordinary renditions, or the transfer of detainees outside normal judicial channels.
Several British members of the assembly, which gathers MPs from 46 countries, criticised Mr. Marty's report.
Michael Hancock, a Liberal Democrat, said it needed to have "more substance. . . many of the issues are clouded in myth and a desire to kick America."
Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, said the report had "more holes than a Swiss cheese".
The Council of Europe, which is independent of the European Union, was set up in 1949 as a guardian of human rights in Europe.
source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/25/wtort25.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/01/25/ixportal.html 24jan2006
European governments probably knew that the CIA was flying prisoners across their territory for interrogation and torture in other countries, a report has claimed.
The document, an interim report from the Council of Europe, confirmed the rendition of more than 100 prisoners had involved Europe.
The Council is the guardian of the Human Rights Convention to which 43 countries, including all 25 EU member states, are signatories. It launched an inquiry into rendition following newspaper reports last year.
Dick Marty, a Swiss MP appointed by the Council to lead the investigation, said: "It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware of the 'rendition' of more than a hundred persons affecting Europe."
He said there was "a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture".
"It has been proved - and in fact never denied - that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and transported ... in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered ... torture," he added.
But it said there was no firm evidence of any secret CIA detention centres being set up in European countries since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
After the original claims last November, the Foreign Office raised the issue in Washington on behalf of the EU.
Spain, Sweden and Iceland have also been studying reports that CIA planes stopped in their territory while transporting terror suspects.
And last week the European Parliament announced its own inquiry into the claims to see if their had been any human rights breaches.
source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=PPC4GRSVPBZBRQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/01/24/utorture.xml 24jan2006
Brussels — An Egyptian government fax intercepted by Swiss intelligence offers the first "real evidence" that the US interrogated suspected terrorists at secret prisons in Eastern Europe, European politicians said yesterday.
The highly-classified fax, purportedly sent late last year by Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, to its embassy in London, was leaked to a Swiss newspaper on Sunday.
In it, Mr. Gheit discussed the fate of 23 detainees from Iraq and Afghanistan who were apparently interrogated at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania on the Black Sea coast.
Egyptian diplomats had confirmed this information "from their own sources", the minister wrote, according to a Swiss intelligence summary leaked to the Sonntagsblick newspaper.
Egypt has not confirmed the authenticity of the fax. But MEPs described it as "a hugely significant step" when angry Swiss authorities confirmed the leak was based on a communication intercepted by a top secret surveillance system, known as Onyx.
The Bush administration has neither confirmed nor denied reports of a network of secret detention sites run by the CIA across the former Communist bloc.
The Romanian defence ministry "categorically" denied the content of the latest leaked Egyptian fax. According to Swiss media, the fax went on: "There are similar interrogation centres in Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and in Bulgaria."
All European governments accused of hosting CIA "black sites" - where detainees have allegedly been tortured to avoid domestic restrictions on interrogation methods - have repeatedly denied the charges.
In the fax, Mr. Gheit concluded: "Romanian authorities continue to deny the presence of secret prisons used by US intelligence to interrogate members of al-Qa'eda."
The commander of the Kogalniceanu air base, Dan Buciuman, told news agencies he had worked at the site since 1995 and had never seen any such activities. He said that the base was open to inspections.
But even without proof, the leak was further bad news for Romania, due to enter the EU as early as 2007 but facing growing opposition from existing members.
If proof emerges that Washington successfully persuaded poor, ex-Communist nations to breach European human rights conventions and laws, the backlash will be severe.
The Liberal Democrat peer and London MEP, Lady Ludford, said: "This is a piece of real evidence to back up the gut instinct many of us have that the denials of complicity we are hearing from EU member and candidate states cannot be relied upon."
Her Labour colleague, Claude Moraes MEP, said Romania, as a candidate nation with serious existing problems of corruption and poverty, was far more vulnerable to EU anger than nations which are already part of the EU, such as Poland.
Mr. Moraes, the social affairs spokesman for British Labour MEPs, said: "There is a strong lobby in the parliament who feel that Romania has not met the entry criteria already, in fields like corruption, human rights abuses, and the behaviour of their justice system."
"Romania will never confess," he said. "But if they are caught red handed, they would risk at a minimum a delay to their entry to 2009, and at worst, they could see their entry suspended indefinitely."
source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=PPC4GRSVPBZBRQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/01/10/wcia10.xml 24jan2006