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25th Jun 2017

European leaders knew about CIA activities, Swiss investigator says

  • Rendition flights were impossible "without the secret services knowing about it," Mr Mary said (Photo: European Commission)

European governments have known about secret US prison camps in Europe for at least two years, according to Swiss senator Dick Marty, who is leading a Council of Europe inquiry into the matter.

Speaking to journalists in Switzerland on Friday (13 January) Mr Marty accused European leaders of "shocking" passivity, arguing they knew about illegal detaining and transporting of prisoners taking place on their soil, media reports say.

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"Since two, three years, the countries know what is happening. There are countries that have collaborated actively, and there are others who have tolerated. Others have simply looked the other way," Mr Marty told Swiss television channel TRS.

He said that it is impossible for Washington to fly prisoners across Europe without anyone knowing what was going on.

"It's not possible to transport people from one place to another in such a manner without the secret services knowing about it," the senator said.

Mr Marty is expected to submit a preliminary report into allegations about clandestine prison transports from European airports and prison camps across Europe to the Council of Europe and to the EU on 23 January, with Friday’s announcement giving a taster of the content of his study.

"The question is: was the CIA really working in Europe? I believe we can say today, without a doubt, yes" Mr Marty said.

Washington's policy "respects neither human rights nor the Geneva Conventions," he added.

The US has refused to confirm or deny the allegations over secret prisons but has denied using or condoning torture.

Information piles up

Mr Marty's announcement comes following a week of mounting pressure on the US and the EU to come clean about the allegations, made last year by US NGO Human Rights Watch and the Washington Post newspaper.

A recently released intelligence document from Switzerland seems to confirm the existence of secret US prison camps in Eastern Europe.

The document, a fax, was obtained by Swiss weekly SonntagsBlick from the Swiss secret services, who had intercepted the note sent by the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu Gheit to the Egyptian embassy in London.

According to the Egyptian fax, 23 Iraqi and Afghan prisoners were interrogated at the Romanian military base of Mihail Kogalniceanu on the Black Sea coast.

Mr Marty said on Friday however that it was unfair to single out member states as possible sites for the centres, as governments all across Europe had been "willingly silent" about the camps.

EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini had earlier indicated that EU member states as well as candidate countries such as Romania and Bulgaria could face sanctions if the allegations are found to be true.

Blair under pressure to reveal more on CIA rendition

The British government has come under increased pressure to reveal more information on CIA practices of transporting terror suspects from UK territory, following an internal memo on the issue leaked to the press.

EU governments condoned torture, Swiss investigator says

European governments have silently condoned the practice of abducting suspected terrorists and transporting them from European airports to countries in which torture is used, a Council of Europe investigation has revealed.

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