Thursday, November 15, 2007

Romania tells EU it did not house secret CIA prisons

EU Business
15 November 2007, 17:34 CET

(BRUSSELS) - Romania has sent the European Commission a letter denying that it harboured secret CIA detention centres, following accusations from the Council of Europe, a Romanian spokeswoman said Thursday.

The European Commission said earlier that it had received a letter from Bucharest, but gave no details of the content.

"We have just received a reply from the Romanian authorities, which we are analysing," said European Commission justice affairs spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing.

Romania's letter to the Commission states "that no secret military base was operated by the CIA on Romanian soil, no person was kept illegally as a prisoner within the Romanian jails, no illegal transfer of detainees were passed through the Romanian territory," Romanian spokeswoman in Brussels Doris Mircea told AFP.

Bucharest also told the European Commission that a Romanian parliamentary fact-finding commission had earlier this year "concluded that the allegation could not stand up," she added.

EU spokesman Roscam Abbing that the Commission was still awaiting an answer from Poland, which has similarly been accused.

In a report released in June, Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty accused both Romania and Poland of allowing the CIA to run detention centres on their territory between 2003 and 2005.

Marty said the prisons, in northeast Poland and southeast Romania, were part of a "global spider's web" of detentions and illegal transfers spun out around the world by the United States and its allies after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Warsaw has also denied the accusations.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini wrote to Poland and Romania in July to highlight their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to establish whether the allegations were true and provide details about any probes.

"We very much believe that the detail and seriousness of the conclusions of the report do require detailed explanations from the member states concerned," Roscam Abbing said, stressing that the Commission was still awaiting Warsaw's reply.

He said Brussels would make an assessment "once we have both replies and we have analysed this information, together with the outcome of investigations which are ongoing in other member states, be they parliamentary or judiciary."

It is unclear what action Frattini could take, even though he has said the states concerned could face penalties -- including suspension of their EU voting rights -- if found to have taken part in the secret CIA prison system.

Romania joined the EU on January 1. Poland became a member in 2004.

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