18th Feb 2019

MEPs in political infighting ahead of final CIA report

Just hours before the planned adoption of the European Parliament's report on illegal CIA activities on Tuesday (23 January), centre-right, socialist and liberal MEPs were embroiled in a squabble on how critical the report should be towards EU capitals and institutions.

According to Italian conservative Jas Gawronski, the draft version of the report by the parliament's temporary committee the CIA affair is "weak on facts and analysis" and "gives no direct proof" that EU member states have condoned a violation of human rights by the US intelligence agency.

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The CIA is seen as having transported terror suspects via European airports to countries where they faced torture, with NGO Human Rights Watch also accusing Washington of running secret prisons in Poland and Romania.

"The entire committee has been useless", Mr Gawronski told EUobserver, questioning the year-long hunt for hard evidence on CIA activities in Europe.

In total, MEPs have tabled almost 500 amendments to the report, drafted by the Italian socialist Claudio Fava.

The draft, made public last November, stresses that "at least 1,245 flights operated by the CIA have flown into European airspace or stopped over at European airports", while the density of the flights was the greatest in Germany (336), the UK (170) and Ireland (147).

Overall, Mr Fava's report names and shames 13 EU member states with Rome, London and Warsaw coming in for the heaviest criticism due to "very great reluctance to fully cooperate" with the parliamentarians on the issue.

But many centre-right deputies oppose the tough language of the draft, which also accuses EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries of being unhelpful towards MEPs due to their vague statements given before the temporary committee.

"The issue is out of Mr Solana's competencies", Mr Gawronski said distancing himself further from the draft.

On the other hand, some liberals and socialists called for a toughened-up version of the report, pleading for serious political repercussions of the parliament's investigation.

An amendment suggesting EU "sanctions on member states in a case of serious and persistent breach of human rights" has been tabled by a group of MEPs, led by the British liberal Sarah Ludford.

The vote is scheduled for Tuesday morning (23 January) with the report wrapping up 12-months of investigation by the parliament committee.

However, political groups seem to be split on the issue also, with Mr Gawronski suggesting that MEPs are "likely to vote along their ideological line and express their general view of the United States rather than their opinion on the credibility of the committee report."

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