22nd Mar 2018

EU nations face mounting pressure over CIA black sites

Pressure is mounting on those member states accused of hosting CIA rendition and torture camps to be held accountable for their role.

MEPs and the European Commission in Strasbourg on Wednesday (17 December) roundly condemned the torture of Al-Qaeda suspects carried out by CIA operatives on EU soil in the wake of 9-11, praised the US for exposing the abuse, and called upon Washington to shut down Guantanamo Bay.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • A handful of EU member states are accused of helping the CIA run its rendition and prison programmes (Photo: wikipedia)

“All concerned member states should conduct independent and impartial investigations to establish the facts with regard to CIA activities,” said EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulus.

“One hundred and thirty-six detainees still remain in the Guantanamo detention facility, including detainees who have neither been brought to trial nor have yet been cleared for release.”

German centre-right MEP Monika Hohlmeier said the US' image had been tarnished. "To use torture and brutal interrogation techniques in order to guarantee security is not something that can be defended."

"Those responsible should be held accountable. We demand a full investigation and clear answers from EU member states," said centre-left Slovenia deputy Tanja Fajon.

But Benedetto Della Vedova, a top official in Italy’s ministry of foreign affairs, and speaking on the behalf of the Italian EU presidency, said the US is an important partner in the fight against terrorism.

He also noted that intelligence issues lie beyond EU powers and that it may not launch an inquiry into a member states "presumed" involvement in the CIA programme.

“The security of each member state is the competence of the member state, that means that the intelligence agencies in member states and their work fall outside the scope of the EU and its institutions,” he said.

The CIA-led torture scandal re-erupted following the partial release of a US Senate report last week seen as the first official admission of events that occurred between late 2001 and January 2009.

At least 54 governments reportedly participated in the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition programme.

Among them those said to be involved are Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK.

Lithuania, Romania, and Poland are accused of hosting the US sponsored detention centers where detainees underwent so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in order to extract intelligence information.

"To their eternal shame, we know that all member states were to some extent involved, some more, some less, but all were aware of the main elements of the programme,” said Dutch liberal Sophia In’t Veld.

All have denied the allegations or launched non-conclusive investigations over the years despite evidence provided by human rights groups, European Parliament-led inquiries, and damning judgements handed out by the European Court of Human Rights.

In July, the Strasbourg-based court “found that Poland had cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA rendition” after two former detainees provided convincing arguments on allegations of torture and ill-treatment at a Polish CIA black site.

But it is publication of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that has since seen former top national officials in Poland and Romania come forward.

Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski, after the report’s publication, said his country had hosted a secret CIA prison under his leadership.

"The Americans conducted their activities in such secrecy, that it raised our concern. Polish authorities acted to end these activities and they were stopped under pressure from Poland,” he told Polish media.

His admission was followed a day later by Ioan Talpes, who headed Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service from 2000 to 2004.

The report’s publication also coincided with the shut down of US-run prison in Afghanistan and the release of two detainees who had been held captive since 2002 without a trial.

Talps said discussions had indeed taken place with Americans on where the CIA agents could operate but said they were unaware that people were being detained.

International law prohibits torture in all circumstances with the Americans having prosecuted Japanese interrogators for “waterboarding” US prisoners during World War II.

Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing

An Austrian police unit headed by a far-right town councilor and tasked to tackle street crime was sent to raid the offices and homes of people working for Austria's domestic intelligence agency - prompting German counterparts to review cooperation.


EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery

The EU-Turkey deal was agreed two years ago in Brussels. Focus has largely been on reducing migrant flows across the Mediterranean and helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, while the plight of those on the Greek islands are ignored.

Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair

US authorities have arrested the chair of the Maltese-registered Pilatus Bank for tax evasion. The bank facilitated political corruption in Malta but its whistleblower is now facing jail in Malta and fears for her life.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  2. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  3. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  4. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  5. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  6. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU
  7. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  8. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections