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Report names Poland and Romania in CIA scandal

Dick Marty has shed light on the CIA's covert activities Keystone

A Swiss investigator says he has proof Poland and Romania hosted secret CIA prisons under a pact to track down suspected terrorists wanted by the United States.

Releasing details from his second report in Paris on Thursday, Dick Marty said Poland housed some of the CIA’s most sensitive prisoners.

They included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed almost 3,000 people.

“There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania,” Marty said in the report for the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog.

Marty issued a preliminary report last year, accusing 20 countries of colluding in a network of secret CIA jails and flight transfers.

President Bush confirmed last year the CIA had run secret detention centres abroad where terrorism suspects had been interrogated, but he did not name any countries.

On Thursday, Marty accused the former Polish president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and the current and former presidents of Romania, Ion Iliescu and Traian Basescu, of having known and approved of the secret CIA operations on their soil.

His report said US intelligence contacts and other sources confirmed Poland and Romania “did host secret detention centres under a special CIA programme established by the American administration in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 to ‘kill, capture and detain’ terrorist suspects deemed of ‘high value'”.

The Swiss senator added that Germany and Italy had used “state secrecy” to obstruct investigations.

EU involvement

The facilities were “run directly and exclusively by the CIA” and European governments connived with the secret transfers and detentions, known as extraordinary renditions, Marty said.

Analysts say Marty’s report could embarrass European governments, who have criticised the detention without trial of suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Reacting to Marty’s report, the European Commission called on Romania and Poland to hold urgent, independent investigations into the allegations and ensure any victims were compensated.

However, government officials in Poland, Romania and Germany either denied allegations of the presence of secret prisons on their soil or involvement of any kind.

Global spider’s web

Marty stated in his preliminary report last year that 20 mostly European countries colluded in a “global spider’s web” of secret CIA jails and flight transfers of terrorist suspects stretching from Asia to Guantanamo Bay.

Switzerland also allegedly knew of the secret prisons. A Swiss newspaper revealed that in late 2005 the country’s intelligence services intercepted a fax from Egypt claiming that the US was operating a secret prison in Romania.

And earlier this year, the cabinet authorised plans to launch criminal proceedings over a suspected CIA flight that took a Muslim preacher kidnapped in Italy across Swiss airspace.

The latter case could have far-reaching consequences. As Marty released his report, 26 US citizens suspected of being CIA agents went on trial in absentia in Italy for the kidnapping.

The Muslim cleric who was on Washington’s list of terrorist suspects says he was tortured after he was brought to Egypt after a so-called extraordinary rendition from Italy.

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The report was released under the auspices of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).

According to PACE, the report was based in part on the cross-referenced testimonies of over 30 serving and former members of intelligence services in the US and Europe, and on a new analysis of computer “data strings” from the international flight planning system.

It describes in detail the scope and functioning of the US “high-value detainees” programme set up by the CIA with the co-operation of official European partners.

The report says a secret agreement between the US and Nato allies in October 2001 provided the framework for the CIA to hold “high-value detainees” in Europe.

Following an appeal from human rights organisation Amnesty International, 100 Swiss parliamentarians have signed a petition demanding that Washington close the military prison on the US naval base in southern Cuba.

Guantánamo Bay Naval Base has been used by the US Navy for more than a century. The US controls the land under a lease set up in the wake of the 1898 Spanish-American War. The current Cuban government considers the US presence in Guantánamo to be an illegal occupation of the area.

The Swiss petition was signed by all of the Green Party, most of those to the left, but no one from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

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