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EU Report Cites Romania, Poland As CIA Prison Sites

Dick Marty presenting his report in Strasbourg today (AFP) June 8, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Romania and Poland allowed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, to operate secret prisons within their borders where agents interrogated suspected terrorists, according to a report released today by Dick Marty, an investigator for the Council of Europe.

Marty said the prisons in these two countries were only part of what he called a global "spider's web" of illegal detentions.

Marty's report stressed that the detention centers in Romania and Poland were run exclusively by the CIA, but said the activities at the prisons were carried out from 2003 to 2005 with the full knowledge and authorization of the countries' leaders.

A spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry insisted there were no secret prisons in Poland, and Szmajdzinski called Marty's report "pure political fiction" and "a waste of time and a waste of money."

He said that in Poland those leaders include former President Aleksander Kwasniewski; Marek Siwiec, Kwasniewski's national security chief; and Jerzy Szmajdzinski, then Poland's defense minister.

And in Romania, he said, the leaders include President Traian Basescu and his predecessor, Ion Iliescu, as well as national security adviser Ioan Talpes, Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu, and Sergiu Tudor Medar, the military intelligence chief.

Both countries have previously denied involvement in the CIA scheme, and Warsaw's reaction to today's report came quickly.

A spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry insisted there were no secret prisons in Poland, and Szmajdzinski called Marty's report "pure political fiction" and "a waste of time and a waste of money."

In Bucharest, Medar said Marty's report exhibits what he called a "lack of professionalism." Romanian Senator Norica Nicolai dismissed it as "improvisations" and "embarrassing speculation." Nicolai is the head of a parliamentary committee that investigated the reports of the secret prisons.

Italy And Germany Accused Of Blocking Probe

In September 2006 U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of the prisons after years of news reports about them around the world. Bush said at the same time that the prisons were no longer operating.

Marty's report, based on interviews with anonymous CIA officials, said the practice began in 2003 -- when the United States won the assistance of European countries, especially NATO allies, in transporting suspects and interrogating them at the prisons -- until 2005.

Further, Marty said, two EU countries -- Italy and Germany -- obstructed his investigation.

Today, Friso Roscam Abbing, spokesman for EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini, restated the EU's stand that moves against terrorists must be conducted within the context of a respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Roscam Abbing also urged all EU members to investigate the matter thoroughly.

"We have repeatedly stressed the need for the [EU] member states concerned to commence or continue in-depth independent and impartial investigations to establish the truth," Roscam Abbing said.

Secrecy And Noninterference

Marty's report pointed to evidence of at least 10 secret flights showing the important roles that Romania and Poland had as delivery points for suspected terrorists. The document said the governments of the two nations agreed to provide both the facilities for the interrogations as well as security.

Romania and Poland also gave the United States guarantees of secrecy and noninterference, Marty said.

The secret prison in Poland took in eight of these suspects, including Abu Zubaydah, a close associate of Osama bin Laden, and Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, who is believed to have been responsible for planning the attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington.

A year ago, Marty said 14 European nations were involved in one way or another in the secret prisons, but didn't identify any of them. In today's report he named only Romania and Poland in Europe, as well as Thailand and the Indian Ocean island territory of Diego Garcia.

Marty's report was issued today at the same time that 26 Americans were put on trial in absentia in Milan on charges of kidnapping Egyptian terror suspect Osama Mustafa Hassan in Italy in February, 2003, and taking him to Egypt, where he claims to have been tortured.

All but one of the U.S. defendants in the Milan trial are believed to be CIA agents.

Marty's report also comes a day after six human rights groups released a list of 39 missing people believed to have been held in the secret prisons. The list was released by Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, Reprieve, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

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