"Europe must tell truth about secret prisons"

Marty says his investigation is far from over Keystone

A Swiss investigator who detailed widespread collusion by European countries in the CIA secret prisons affair says the full truth of what went on has yet to emerge.

This content was published on September 7, 2006 - 21:30

Dick Marty told swissinfo that governments, including Switzerland's, had to come clean about their role following Wednesday's admission by President Bush that terror suspects had been held outside the United States.

Marty, who is a Swiss senator, was appointed by the Council of Europe in November last year to investigate claims that the CIA had set up secret prisons in eastern Europe.

In his report, published on June 7, he concluded that 14 European countries had colluded with the US in a "spider's web" of human rights abuses.

He said other countries, including Switzerland, had been involved actively or passively in the detention or transfer of unknown persons.

swissinfo: Bush's statement appears to vindicate your report that European countries, including Switzerland, colluded in the affair. Does this increase pressure on the governments concerned to come clean?

Dick Marty: First, the fact that the existence of secret prisons has now been confirmed does not come as a surprise to me. I have always been convinced that they existed.

Second, the fact that the Bush administration is admitting for the first time that it detained people and interrogated them in a brutal way outside the US is an additional and urgent reason for European governments to finally do their duty, which is to establish what really happened on their territory. We are still a long way from learning the whole truth.

swissinfo: Does this include the Swiss government, which your report claimed had turned a blind eye to allegations of suspect aircraft transiting the country's airspace?

D.M.: [It means] all countries where there is clear evidence that either airspace or airports or other infrastructure were used as part of the secret detention programme - Switzerland included.

swissinfo: In February the Swiss government extended permission for overflights by non-commercial US planes until the end of 2006. Should this decision be reviewed in the wake of Bush's statement?

D.M.: I think we renewed this authorisation too quickly. You only have to examine the legal papers of Italian magistrates, which were available for scrutiny, to realise that there was a whole body of evidence pointing to the fact that our airspace had been used for the transport of at least one prisoner detained illegally.

I think we should have sought explanations from the US government in a much more vigorous and formal way. We were simply content to accept a verbal statement from an official within the Bush administration.

swissinfo: Following Bush's revelations, can these assurances that no prisoners transited Switzerland be taken seriously?

D.M.: No. I think that throughout this affair, as with the war in Iraq, we have been told countless lies. Therefore I think we must now be very firm with our requests for information.

swissinfo: Do you expect the Bush administration to reveal more details of its secret detention programme, such as where prisons were based?

D.M.: No. We must continue to keep up the pressure. The reason we have had these admissions is down to the sterling work by non-governmental organisations and investigative journalists, especially in the US. I would also like to highlight the considerable influence of the US judiciary, which has made some significant decisions.

swissinfo: Will you be continuing your investigations?

D.M.: In June the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly asked me to continue my work. I am prepared to do so but I am not prepared to work under the conditions set by the Council of Europe: practically without any means at my disposal.

I have a young assistant who was engaged for six months and now they are coming up with all kinds of bureaucratic reasons why they cannot renew his contract. I find this absolutely grotesque, especially when you consider the importance of the work I am trying to do.

swissinfo-interview: Adam Beaumont

In brief

In November 2005 Human Rights Watch alleged the existence of secret detention camps in Europe and the kidnapping of suspected terrorists by the CIA.

The Council of Europe asked Dick Marty, a Swiss senator and chairman of the council's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to launch an investigation.

Marty presented a report on June 7, accusing 14 European countries of having colluded with the CIA on secret prisons and transfers of terrorism suspects.

The report accused the Swiss government of turning a blind eye to allegations of suspect aircraft transiting the country's airspace.

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Key facts

The Federal Civil Aviation Office has confirmed that six suspected CIA flights landed in Switzerland.
In addition, 76 flights were made over Switzerland by US planes suspected of being used by the CIA between 2001 and January 2006.
The aviation office said these were registered as non-commercial flights.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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