E.U. Report Faults 16 Nations in Probe Of Secret CIA Flights
Thursday, February 15, 2007
PARIS, Feb. 14 -- The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a report admonishing 15 European countries and Turkey for helping the CIA transport terrorism suspects held in secret or for failing to cooperate in the parliament's investigation of the practice.
The legislative body for the European Union's 27 countries said many member states have been "turning a blind eye" to the CIA-operated flights carrying prisoners who were subjected to "incommunicado detention and torture" during interrogations, violating E.U. human rights standards.
"We have opened up a closed door and there is even more behind this," said parliament member Giovanni Claudio Fava, an Italian Socialist who drafted the report. It was approved by a 382 to 256 vote, with 74 abstentions.
The parliament criticized the CIA renditions -- an extralegal tactic by which alleged terrorists have been abducted and interrogated at secret sites overseas -- "as an illegal instrument used by the USA in the fight against terrorism" and condemned the "acceptance and concealing of the practices by the secret services and governmental authorities of certain European countries."
The parliament deleted some of the toughest sections of the report, however, including recommendations for sanctions against some countries for human rights violations. It softened criticisms of some governments, including those of Britain, Germany and Spain, after intense lobbying from those states.
The vote came after a divisive debate among members.
Parliament member Jas Gawronski of Italy criticized the final report as "a blanket condemnation of the secret services" and said it was "predicated on the assumption that there is one chief guilty party and that is the USA."
President Bush acknowledged last September that the CIA used secret prisons to interrogate some terrorism suspects overseas. He did not say where the prisons were located.
A parliamentary committee spent a year investigating the allegations and interviewed more than 200 witnesses, including E.U., NATO and U.S. State Department officials as well as individuals who alleged they had been kidnapped by CIA agents in Europe and held in secret U.S. prisons.
The report criticized the E.U. foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, for "omissions" in his testimony before the parliamentary panel.
The report, which repeated basic findings made in a draft released last year, admonished 11 countries for having a role in CIA flights: Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia and Romania. The report also cited Britain, Austria, Italy, Poland and Portugal as uncooperative in the probe.
The report said its investigators had received no information to "contradict any of the allegations" that the CIA ran a secret prison in Romania and said the parliament could not "acknowledge or deny" that any of the secret facilities had been set up in Poland. Those two countries have denied hosting CIA prisons.
Separately, the Swiss government on Wednesday authorized a criminal investigation into a February 2003 CIA flight that reportedly carried Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from Italy, where he was allegedly kidnapped, to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, crossing Swiss airspace. Nasr was then taken to Cairo.