European Report Addresses CIA Sites
Friday, June 8, 2007
PARIS, June 7 -- A European investigator said he has "factually established" that Poland and Romania allowed the CIA to operate secret prisons where alleged al-Qaeda operatives were detained and interrogated, according to documents scheduled to be presented Friday to Europe's official human rights organization.
Dick Marty, a Swiss lawyer for the Council of Europe, the continent's human rights agency, said detainees who were considered "especially sensitive" were incarcerated in Poland and those believed "to be less important were held in Romania," the documents said.
The documents, which were obtained by The Washington Post, include the cover letter and explanatory note of a report Marty has drafted, as well as a related draft resolution to be proposed to the council. Those documents did not provide details of the evidence Marty used to verify the participation of Poland and Romania in the covert CIA program.
Those two countries have repeatedly denied hosting CIA prisons. Marty said the two countries' government agencies did not cooperate with his investigation.
The report -- part of a larger investigation into partnerships among the CIA, NATO and European nations in the capture, transfer and detention of suspected terrorists -- reflects European outrage over the secret operations.
"Large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is a common practice," Marty wrote, adding, "The fight against terrorism must not serve as an excuse for systematic recourse to illegal acts, massive violation of fundamental human rights and contempt for the rule of law."
Marty wrote that he was "not ruling out the possibility that secret CIA detentions may also have occurred" in other European countries, adding that his investigation was hampered by the failure of the United States, NATO and many European countries to cooperate with the probe.
The Post, which first reported on the existence of the secret prisons in 2005, has not published the names of East European countries involved in the program at the request of senior U.S. officials, who argued the disclosure could hamper counterterrorism efforts.
"Some individuals were kept in secret detention centers for periods of several years where they were subjected to degrading treatment and so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' (essentially a euphemism for a kind of torture)," Marty wrote.
He said many of the actions are "unacceptable under the laws of European countries" and would be legally challenged if they were undertaken in the United States.
"The fact that the measures only apply to non-American citizens reflects a kind of 'legal apartheid,' " he wrote.
In his explanatory note, Marty concluded, "There is no real international strategy against terrorism. . . . The refusal to establish and recognize a functioning international judicial and prosecution system is also a major weakness in our efforts to combat international terrorism."
John Sifton, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said his group has long alleged that Romania and Poland participated in the CIA program.
"The use of secret detention sets a terrible example for other countries, who may use it to jail political opponents or journalists, by labeling them 'enemies,' " he said in an e-mail. "It can also be counter-productive and undermine the moral equation of terrorism and counter-terrorism, by making suspected perpetrators of terrorism into victims, while making the original victims of terrorism into perpetrators."
The Council of Europe functions as the continent's official human rights watchdog. Its 47 member nations are legally bound to observe its human rights statutes, although the council has limited power to enforce the rules.
Tate reported from Washington.