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Swiss Investigator 'Convinced' CIA Ran Prisons In Europe

Condoleezza Rice attempted to reassure European allies during her visit last month (AFP) Prague, 14 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A Swiss investigator, Dick Marty, has said he is convinced the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ran secret prisons in Europe, and that European governments have been complicit in illegal CIA activities.

The allegations first surfaced in November. U.S. media reports said the CIA ran secret prisons for terror suspects in Eastern Europe and had transported some suspects to other countries via Europe.

Other claims quickly followed. The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch identified Romania and Poland as possible sites.

Both countries denied that claim, but the reports prompted an investigation by the Council of Europe, a pan-European body that promotes rights and democracy. And now the man leading that investigation has said he's convinced the claims are true.

"I'd like it to be clear that the problem does not only concern Romania and Poland," Swiss investigator Dick Marty said. "It would be too simple to criminalize these two countries. I think it's the whole of Europe that accepted to keep quiet, because if it's true that something happened in Romania and Poland, something also happened in many other countries, and many of them were certainly aware of what was going on. And to me, in such a situation, knowing and keeping quiet is as bad as tolerating that such activities be led on its territory."

The U.S. government has neither denied nor confirmed the reports of secret jails, and the row dominated a trip by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Europe last month. Rice sought then to reassure allies by saying the United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture, and the row has since died down somewhat.

But Marty's preliminary report -- to be delivered later this month -- could reignite the dispute. He said he doesn't yet have concrete proof, and that his investigation won't be finished for another 12 months as he seeks more evidence.

(compiled from agency reports)