European governments 'helped US with rendition'

26th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 April 2006, BRUSSELS - European governments have violated human rights by condoning the abduction, transport and detention of terrorist suspects by the US on European territory, European parliamentarians said on Wednesday.

26 April 2006

BRUSSELS - European governments have violated human rights by condoning the abduction, transport and detention of terrorist suspects by the US on European territory, European parliamentarians said on Wednesday.

"The violation of human and fundamental rights was not isolated... but rather a widespread regular practice in which the majority of European countries were involved," said Italian Socialist Euro MP Claudio Fava, rapporteur for a European Parliament committee investigating alleged CIA activities in Europe.

Data from Eurocontrol, the European air navigation agency, had proven that the US secret service CIA operated more than 1,000 flights in Europe, often used directly for the transport of terrorist suspects to countries who used torture when interrogating the detainees.

"The CIA has, on several occasions, clearly been responsible for kidnapping and illegally detaining alleged terrorists on the territory of (EU) member states, as well as for extraordinary renditions," Fava's new interim report pointed out.

Many national governments in Europe "have been guilty of inertia in the recent years," Fava told reporters. The continent's security authorities never cared to verify the real aim of the flights and whether the planes only landed in Europe for refuelling, he said.

EU ambassadors were aware but never tried to prevent non-EU governments from helping the US, Fava added.

Italy, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina have had direct responsibility for the CIA's activities on their territories, he underlined.

Sweden's secret service had handed two Egyptian nationals to the CIA despite the risk of torture and without any judiciary guarantee, Fava said. Bosnian authorities extradited six men to the US secret service against decisions taken by its Supreme Court, he added.

Fava said Italian authorities must have been aware of CIA plans for the abduction of terrorism suspect Abu Omar who was seized off a Milan street in 2003 before being flown to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

At least one of the cases cited in the report involved an EU citizen, Lebanese-born German national Khaled el-Masri, who claims he was kidnapped by the CIA in Macedonia and held captive in Afghanistan as a terrorism suspect in 2004.

Fava's report called for new EU legislation on the use of European airports and urged member states to beef up controls on the activities of foreign secret services on their territory.

The interim report followed three months of hearings and more than 50 hours of testimony by human rights activists and individuals who say they have been kidnapped by US agents and tortured.

A delegation of parliamentarians will travel to Macedonia Thursday to query senior government officials about the alleged kidnapping of el-Masri.

In May, Euro MPs will leave for Washington to collect information from former CIA officials, Fava said.

The 46-member parliamentary committee investigating the CIA charges was set up in January. It is working in tandem with an inquiry by the Council of Europe. However, the committee has no power to sanction European governments.

The Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, said earlier this month that European governments have violated human rights treaties by helping the US to transport terror suspects to other countries for interrogation.

Clandestine detention centres, secret flights via or from Europe to countries where suspects could face torture, or extraordinary renditions would all breach the continent's human rights conventions.

DPA

Subject: German news

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