Sunday, February 24, 2008

EU: Poland, Romania Coy on Rendition

By JAN SLIVA – 1 day ago

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — The European Commission on Friday said Poland and Romania have been dodging requests for clarification about allegations they were involved in Washington's program of secretly transporting terror suspects to clandestine prisons.

Britain acknowledged on Thursday, after years of denials, that the U.S. used one of its remote outposts — the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia — in the secret transport — which the U.S. calls extraordinary rendition.

EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini sent letters to Warsaw and Bucharest in July urging them to conduct in-depth judicial inquiries into the findings by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, which both said circumstantial evidence pointed to the countries' complicity in the U.S. program.

Romania and Poland have firmly denied allegations of running secret CIA prisons or aiding the U.S. to spirit away terror suspects to illegal detention facilities.

Frattini nevertheless demanded that the two countries provide clarification concerning "allegations of detention centers in these countries." Neither country has responded in an adequate manner, EU Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said.

"We have not received a reply from Poland, and the information from Romania was not considered complete. ... Frattini sent reminders in January and we're currently awaiting replies," Laitenberger said.

He did not give any deadline but said countries usually respond to commission requests quickly.

Swiss Senator Dick Marty, who led an inquiry into CIA activities in Europe on behalf of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, said the continent is likely to see more admissions of complicity in the coming months.

"When I implicated Britain in my report and specifically mentioned Diego Garcia, a British MP laughed at me and said my case was riddled with holes like Swiss cheese," he said. "Now I have to laugh."

The CIA admitted on Thursday that previous data given to Britain "turned out to be wrong." British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Parliament that recent talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice showed two suspects had been on flights to Guantanamo Bay and Morocco in 2002 that landed on Diego Garcia, a U.S. base on British soil.

EU member states have been unwilling to shed light on their possible roles in the flights to secret detention facilities — a practice illegal under EU human rights laws.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, said he had received allegations that the Americans not only refueled at Diego Garcia, as Miliband said Thursday, but also held detainees there.

"I'm not saying that he didn't tell the truth, according to his knowledge. I'm only saying that I had, from the very beginning, allegations that suspected terrorists were held at Diego Garcia. These are allegations, I don't have proof," he said.

The European Parliament is to evaluate how EU countries have responded to the accusations of complicity with the CIA and what they have done to prevent illegal activities by foreign intelligence services on their soil, officials said.

The European Parliament and the Council of Europe have accused at least 14 European nations of colluding with U.S. intelligence in a web of rights abuses to help the CIA program, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans in Geneva, Switzerland, contributed to this report

No comments: