9th Jun 2023

US promises to clarify reports on CIA prisons in Europe

Faced with mounting pressure from the EU, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice promised on Tuesday (29 November) to clarify reports that the CIA is running secret prisons in eastern Europe, while using EU airports to transport terror suspects.

"The United States realizes that these are topics that are generating interest among European publics as well as parliaments and that these questions need to be responded to," Ms Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack told a press conference in Washington, while keeping silent about the allegations themselves.

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  • Condolleezza Rice - defending pre-emptive terror arrests (Photo: The White House)

UK foreign secretary Jack Straw has sent a letter on behalf of the EU to Washington seeking "clarification" about the reports, while eight individual member states are awaiting a US response to their own formal inquiries on the matter.

The US government has so far declined to answer questions about the claims, published by the Washington Post and NGO Human Rights Watch earlier this month.

But in general terms, it is defending the use of unconventional methods in the fight against terrorism - such as pre-emptive arrests.

"We have never fought a war like this before where ... you can’t allow somebody to commit the crime before you detain them", Rice said in the interview with USA Today earlier this week.

"The terrorists know no boundaries. They know no regulations or rules or they don't comply with any laws", Ms Rice’ spokesperson added, writes the Washington Post.

Poland keeps on denying

Meanwhile in Europe, justice commissioner Franco Frattini’s warnings on Monday that any EU member states found to have hosted secret CIA prisons could have their EU voting rights suspended, caused further denials from suspected host countries.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly pointed to Poland and EU candidate state Romania as likely locations for the camps.

Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski reaffirmed on Monday according to the International Herald Tribune that "Poland has never hosted any prisoner of the CIA in the country."

CIA planes, some of them known to be implicated in the practice of "rendition" (the extra-judicial seizure of terror suspects), have also been seen at airports across Europe, including Poland, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Malta.

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