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26th Jan 2020

MEPs roast EU states and Solana for 'lies' on CIA

The European Parliament's committee on CIA activities in Europe has called for sanctions to be imposed on member states which have condoned violation of human rights by US intelligence and slammed the EU council [the member states' secretariat] for "trying to lie" to parliamentarians.

The final, strongly-worded report adopted Wednesday (23 January), demands "the council to start hearings and the European Commission an independent investigation without delay... [and] impose sanctions on member states in case of a serious and persistent breach of human rights".

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  • MEPs have drawn up a pattern of secret CIA flights across Europe (Photo: Council of Europe)

"We expect the council to take up its responsibilities", Italian socialist Claudio Fava, in charge of the investigation, told journalists at the end of a 12-month Europe-wide search for hard evidence, with potential sanctions including suspension of voting rights in EU decision-making structures.

The committee was set up in response to allegations in late 2005 by NGO Human Rights Watch and US daily the Washington Post that the US routinely flies terror suspects through Europe to overseas prison camps where some of them face torture and that Poland and Romania housed CIA prisons for the covert programme.

Twenty eight committee members voted in favor of the report, 17 against and three abstained, with mainly conservatives opposing the text and with some MEPs calling it a "waste of time and tax payers' money".

"We are calling for Article 7 of the EU Treaty [allowing sanctions] to be set in motion, while the report is based on speculations," Italian conservative Jas Gawronski said.

Conservatives failed to soften criticism of European capitals and officials in the report, which roasts several member states for lack of cooperation, with Austria, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK at the top of the list in the name-and-shame campaign.

The council - including EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana - also came under some of the strongest fire, as MEPs revealed they were given only partial documents on EU meetings with high-level US officials, leaving out all the key notes regarding rendition flights.

"The council tried to lie to the European Parliament committee" Portuguese centre-right MEP and committee chairman Carlos Coelho said, underlining "you cannot have true cooperation between the three institutions if we [members of the European Parliament] are treated like this."

"Mr Solana clearly knew more than he revealed to MEPs," Mr Fava added.

But despite the tough wording several MEPs took a "realistic" approach to the potential consequences of the accusations.

"Given the fact that national governments failed to fully cooperate, I am skeptical that the report will invoke serious investigation and that sanctions could be on the table" a senior Dutch member of the CIA committee, Jan Marinus Wiersma told EUobserver.

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