Illegal renditions in Europe, warrants for CIA officers
Regional-European Union, Politics, 7/6/2006
The European Parliament approved Thursday an interim report of its Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners by 389 to 137 with 55 abstentions.
The CIA was in some cases directly responsible for the "illegal seizure, removal, abduction and detention of terrorist suspects" in Europe, said the report.
European lawmakers also gave the responsible Temporary Committee the green light to continue its work for another six months.
It is "implausible", the report says, "that certain European governments were not aware of the activities linked to extraordinary rendition taking place on their territory."
Such involvement or complicity, MEPs argue, was likely on the part of Italian authorities in the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar by CIA agents in Milan; on the part of Bosnian authorities in the abduction and transfer of six Bosnian nationals or residents of Algerian origin to Guantanamo Bay and on the part of Swedish authorities, who expelled Egyptian nationals Mohammed Al Zary and Ahmed Agiza, handing them over to CIA agents for transfer to Egypt.
EU member states "may be held liable" for failure to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, noted the report.
Sarah Ludford, British MEP and vice-president of the Temporary Committee said: "Parliament's committee has done a serious job, cooperating with the Council of Europe investigation but taking that forward with a special focus on EU and candidate states. Allegations have now moved beyond speculation to establishing a credible prima facie case. All member states suspected of complicity now have a duty to conduct their own inquiries to shed more light on these events."
Introducing the debate, rapporteur of the report Giovanni Fava, said, "Extraordinary renditions have been a fact - not an opinion - a fact that has even been admitted by the US Department of State". Moreover, "some EU Member States were complicit, some covered illegal operations, some just turned their backs." The EP committee had tried to get to the truth, he said.
It had "reconstructed in detail a very complex system of flights, of ghost planes used by the CIA and of flight plans". Many suspects were bundled on to them and into prison. "These flights stopped over at our airports and benefited from our silence,'' he said.
Speaking for the EU Presidency, Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Paula Lehtomaki said it was important that the European Parliament and the Council of Europe had taken the initiative to investigate these issues.
"Fundamental rights in Europe and actions to combat terrorism cannot be in conflict with each other."
British MEP Sarah Ludford emphasised that in the EU "the area of justice and human rights is not working properly."
It was "implausible" for governments not to have known about these matters and the burden of proof was now being shifted on to them." This conspiracy of silence must stop,'' she said.
German MEP Cem Ozdemir said most victims were arrested illegally, many have disappeared. "We heard individuals speak of torture and inhuman treatment."
He said the "outsourcing" of torture made it difficult to estimate the sale of infringements.
British MEP Sajjad Karim said that it was clear that the CIA was directly responsible for abduction, detention and extraordinary rendition in EU Member States.
Another British MEP Claude Moraes said it was important to extend the committee's mandate in order that the truth could be established.
Meantime, the Los Angeles Times reported today that "Italian authorities ordered the arrests of a former CIA station chief, an Air Force commander and two other Americans and took a top Italian spymaster into custody Wednesday as they broadened their investigation into the CIA's alleged abduction of a radical Muslim imam."
The Los Angeles Times report said "The new warrants issued by prosecutors in Milan bring to 26 the number of Americans, most of them alleged CIA operatives, being sought in connection with the February 2003 abduction of Hassan Osama Nasr. None of the Americans named in the warrants are still in Italy or have been arrested."
Rice says rendition of suspects accused of terrorism within the law
The Guardian: The US broke Italian law by kidnapping Egyptian cleric
Italy orders arrest of CIA agents for kidnapping Egyptian cleric
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