• The two Italian MEPs say they saw evidence of CIA planes landing and taking off from Ukraine (Photo: Council of Europe)

EU investigator targets Ukraine in fresh CIA allegations

14.11.07 @ 17:24

  1. By Lucia Kubosova

STRASBOURG - The European Parliament's appointee to investigate the alleged cases of illegal CIA prisons in Europe and extraordinary rendition flights over EU territory has called for a follow-up inquiry, suggesting he has fresh evidence that Ukraine was linked to the operations.

There is "strong and very specific evidence that a military base in Ukraine was made available for the CIA," Italian socialist MEP Claudio Fava told journalists on Wednesday (14 November).

Along with his fellow Italian deputy Giulietto Chiesa, he made reference to a secret Ukrainian government document they had both seen and which was also presented in a Russian TV documentary that the two lawmakers arranged for journalists and MEPs to watch in one of the parliament's buildings in Strasbourg.

The secret document appeared to show Kiev's authorization of the landing on the country's territory of a CIA-operated Gulfstream jet plane five times in August 2005.

The Italian deputies suggested that the same plane was used by the CIA in several previously highlighted cases, including the kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar in Milan and his transfer to US bases in Italy and Germany for interrogations.

Moreover, the Russian documentary quoted several sources claiming that they had seen or participated in building the prison within a military base in Ukraine, close to Poland, which was used for ten prisoners and ten guards.

In reaction, Ukraine's defense minister Anatoly Gritsenko told the AP agency that the Italian MEPs' statements were "nonsense," and did not comment further.

But the parliamentarians are ready to ask the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog of 47 member countries including Ukraine, to further investigate the issue. They also called for a special report by the European Parliament's committee of civil liberties.

Earlier this year, the EU legislature adopted Mr Fava's report which stated that there had been over 1,000 secret CIA flights with stopovers on EU territory since 2001, with several of them used to transfer terror suspects.

The Council of Europe report published in June concluded that there was "enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA [existed] in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania."

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