West used information secured under torture, ex-diplomat says

20.04.06 @ 18:41

  1. By Teresa Küchler

BRUSSELS - A British former envoy to Uzbekistan has revealed that western secret services obtained intelligence secured under torture from foreign detainees, with MEPs criticising the EU anti-terror coordinator for spinelessness.

  • The use of torture is contrary to UN law (Photo: European Commission)

Speaking before the European Parliament's temporary committee on CIA activities in Europe on Thursday (20 April), Craig Murray said that UK intelligence had obtained information from detainees tortured by Uzbek security forces.

He alerted British foreign minister, Jack Straw, of the methods used by Uzbek intelligence as far back as 2003.

"There is a plenty of evidence about torture carried out in Uzbekistan and I know that foreign minister Jack Straw officially approved using the information obtained through torture," Mr Murray said, citing a secret report from a meeting held on 3 March 2003.

The German secret service was also cooperating very closely with its Uzbek counterpart, he added, while Britain and the US had taken a policy decision to obtain intelligence under torture in other countries as well.

"I say this with great pain but with absolute certainty," the ex-ambassador stated.

EU's anti-terror czar unpopular

The EU's anti-terror coordinator, Gijs de Vries, also made an appearance before the committee on Thursday.

He said there is still no irrefutable evidence of EU government involvement in or knowledge of illegal CIA activities in or close to the EU, despite a steady stream of reports to the contrary from highly-respected NGOs and journalists.

His stance provoked frustration among members, with Spanish socialist MEP Maria Elena Valenciano Martinez-Orozco pressing Mr de Vries for more information.

"There are strong and many indications that extraordinary renditions have taken place," she said. "What is worse? That member states did not know or that they knew and did not tell?"

Mr de Vries also denied knowledge of any EU-US agreement to allow so-called extraordinary renditions - the alleged US practice of snatching terror suspects in Europe and flying them to secret CIA camps.

Mr de Vries said he could only remind EU member states as well as third countries - like the US - to respect international laws on human rights, while underlining the EU's lack of legal powers in this sphere.

EU institutions do not have the authority to demand intelligence about member state activities in the security, government or judicial areas.

The anti-terror coordinator failed to refer to any of the statements made voluntarily by member states on the subject.

His appearance before the committee was deemed "completely useless" by Italian socialist MEP Claudio Fava, while German liberal Alexander Nuno Alvaro ironically asked Mr de Vries to state his job description.

The parliament's committee is expected to unveil its findings in June.