21st Oct 2016

Commission calls for full disclosure on European CIA activities

EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini has called on EU member states to come clean about secret CIA activities in the wake of a damning report by European human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe (CoE).

Speaking from a meeting in Bulgaria on Tuesday, commissioner Frattini urged EU member states as well as candidate countries to cooperate with the CoE as "promptly and comprehensively as possible."

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"It is now for the member states of the Council of Europe to clarify their position in this regard," he added in a statement.

The commissioner's demand came after a CoE investigation revealed interim findings on Tuesday (24 January) that European governments were aware of CIA abductions and the transportation of suspected terrorists from Europe to countries where torture is used.

Mr Marty on Tuesday did not mince his words when accusing EU governments - or their intelligence services - of hiding the truth from their own parliaments as to how much knowledge they had about CIA activities in European airports.

"Is it possible to transport individuals from one European country to another and then to Egypt without anybody knowing? Is it possible that 25 American security agents can land on Italian ground without causing any reactions?" he asked at a press conference in Strasbourg.

He also reported that journalists in the US and around Europe had been put "under great pressure not to publish" all that they know about the topic.

But he admitted that there was no irrefutable evidence of the existence of secret CIA camps in Romania, Poland or any other country in line with NGO allegations late last year.

EU governments give Marty cold shoulder

Member states' early reactions to Mr Marty's accusations were cool, with the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos saying that there was no "pact of silence" between European governments and that the Spanish government had nothing to hide, writes EFE.

A Romanian deputy in the CoE, Florin Preda, said that "there is no proof of what the media says", while British labour deputy Denis MacShane said that "there is more holes in the report than in a Swiss cheese, and it does not provide anything new, no proofs, no testimonies, no documents."

Meanwhile, Franco Frattini's own call to arms was offset by warnings that neither the European Commission nor he personally would draw any conclusions, issue any judgements or speculate on actions to be taken before the full facts had been established.

Commissioner Frattini earlier indicated that EU member states as well as candidate countries such as Romania could face sanctions if the allegations are found to be true.

What did Condoleezza Rice say?

Meanwhile, MEPs from a new EU parliamentary committee in Brussels that is to collect and analyse information about CIA activities in close cooperation with the CoE, have also raised doubts about the integrity of European leaders on the issue.

Green MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg told EUobserver that European government's sudden u-turn toward the US following a visit from US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in December has not yet been explained.

European foreign ministers, who seemed to be biding their time for a heads-on confrontation with the US over the allegations, in December took Ms Rice's laconic explanations at face value.

"Ministers have not explained what Ms Rice told them at the meeting to make them calm all of a sudden," Ms Buitenweg said.

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