Monday

11th Nov 2019

EU's Solana in fresh CIA kidnapping spotlight

  • EU police missions in the Balkans have high-level local contacts (Photo: EUPM)

Liberal MEPs investigating allegations that the CIA has been kidnapping EU citizens want EU top diplomat Javier Solana to answer a second round of questions, after news that the EU police mission in Macedonia might have inside knowledge.

Germany's Stern magazine wrote on Wednesday (12 July) that the EU's Skopje police mission - Proxima - had high-level contacts in the Macedonian counter-espionage unit - the DBK - at the time that Macedonia allegedly handed over German citizen Khalid El-Masri to the CIA in January 2004.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But the Proxima-DBK link has never been probed, despite ongoing investigations into the El-Masri affair by the Council of Europe, the German public prosecutor and the European Parliament's ad-hoc committee, Stern magazine said.

"I think we ought to invite [Mr Solana] to appear before our committee again and ask him specifically about EU police and security missions in the Balkans," UK liberal MEP and committee deputy-chair Sarah Ludford stated. "We keep stumbling across allegations, indications that they may have had some knowledge, if not involvement," she added.

Mr El-Masri was released in May 2004, accusing EU candidate state Macedonia of the hand-over and saying US agents beat him up and flew him to Afghanistan where he faced torture.

The European Commission has stated that any government's collusion with CIA kidnappings could see serious consequences on human rights grounds under the EU Treaty.

Macedonia claims innocence

"We gave all the information we have to the German prosecutor," a Macedonian interior ministry spokesman told EUobserver. "We do not arbitrarily arrest foreign nationals. We are a free country, a democratic country."

Mr Solana's office could not be contacted for a comment, but when Mr Solana spoke to the MEPs' CIA committee previously on 2 May he denied knowledge of any European governments' involvement in US kidnappings or "renditions."

The EU's former high representative for Macedonia - Swedish diplomat Michael Sahlin - who started work after the El-Masri affair in August 2004 also poured cold water on the speculations:

"During my term no mention of this was made by anyone of my international community or local counterparts, or bosses in Brussels," he told EUobserver. "I can't imagine Proxima could have known about it and not informed me."

Meanwhile, the European Commission reacted to the Stern story by repeating the mantra that:

"We have asked the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's authorities to cooperate fully and openly with all the investigations that are currently ongoing."

The MEPs' CIA committee has no power of subpoena over Mr Solana or anybody else and has faced criticism from EU member state governments and some of its own conservative EPP-ED group members that its work is based on flimsy evidence and is anti-American.

The committee was formed after US daily the Washington Post in November 2005 published a CIA leak about secret US prisons on EU soil.

Balkans leads

The MEPs are currently following a lead that Macedonian agents put a fake exit visa stamp in Mr El-Masri's passport before he was abducted, so that they could later claim they had nothing to do with the affair.

The committee is also keen to find out more about the role of the EU's police mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina - the EUPM - which did nothing during Bosnia's alleged handover of the so-called "Algerian six" to the CIA in January 2002.

In Kosovo, MEPs want to know why the NATO-led security force - KFOR - has done nothing to investigate reports that the US at one time ran a secret Guantanamo-bay type prison for terrorist suspects in the UN-controlled region.

"The EU went to this region to help create stability and to guarantee the respect of human rights," Ms Ludford said. "If they were involved in this [CIA programme] in any way, then we might as well pack up and go home."

Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?

Uncertainty surrounding this weekend's Spanish election - the fourth in four years - is rising, as polls suggest that the outcome of Sunday's vote could be as inconclusive April's election. Thousands of police are on the streets of Barcelona.

New Romanian commissioner completes line-up, bar UK

Ursula von der Leyen has chosen Alina Valean to be Romania's new commissioner. She will get the transport portfolio, putting an end to speculation that Hungary might lose the enlargement portfolio.

Belgium's political deadlock is complete

After 163 days the Belgian government formation is not going anywhere. The King needs to be more creative than ever in trying to find a way out.

Romanian president and PM at war over commission pick

The president has publicly scolded the prime minister over picking a new name for Romania's EU commissioner candidate - a week ahead of the formation of a new government in Bucharest. Premier Viorica Dancila has hit back on Facebook.

News in Brief

  1. EU's climate contribution exceeds €20bn annually
  2. EU-Singapore trade deal enters into force this month
  3. Commission will not probe Borrell over Catalan tweet
  4. Frontex gets its European border police force
  5. EU Parliament loses funding case against Farage-led party
  6. US will not impose car tariffs, says Juncker
  7. Merkel disagrees with Macron on Nato
  8. Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  2. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark
  3. MEPs slam Commission over common charger delay
  4. Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more
  5. Cleaning up both the EU and Western Balkans
  6. Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?
  7. Up to 750 European children trapped in north-east Syria
  8. EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us