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Eu colluded on rendition flights { June 7 2006 }

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Europeans ‘colluded’ on rendition flights
By Daniel Dombey in London
Published: June 7 2006 11:30 | Last updated: June 7 2006 11:30

The UK, Germany and several other European countries illegally colluded with US extra-legal abductions in the “war against terror,” a report for the Council of Europe said on Wednesday.

The report to the Council of Europe, which brings together 46 European countries, also said there were strong indications that Poland and Romania hosted illegal US prisons – something the two countries have always denied.

Dick Marty, the Swiss politician who compiled the report, said that seven countries had violated known individuals’ human rights by participating in what he called a “spider’s web” of CIA detentions and transfers. The countries involved were the UK, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

“Authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities,” he said. “Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know.”

At the centre of Mr Marty’s investigation, which will be debated by the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, is the practice of “rendition” – or extra-legal abductions.

The US argues that rendition is a well-established practice that on occasion is essential for dealing with terrorist suspects and has nothing to do with torture.

But Mr Marty’s report says that practices associated with rendition, such as nudity, “forced shackling like an animal” and being forced to wear nappies amount to extreme humiliation” of a level that is unacceptable in European states.

He also repeats the details of specific cases, such as that of Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen who was abducted in Macedonia and says he was kicked, beaten and force-fed by his captors.

Mr Marty adds that although he had been unable to prove that the CIA had detention centres in Poland and Romania, the movements of well known “rendition aircraft” between the two countries and other countries indicated the existence of detention centres in both.

He says that the case of two British residents who were arrested in the Gambia in November 2002 and transferred to Afghanistan and finally to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shows collusion between British security services and the CIA in “abducting persons against whom there is no evidence.”

The report recounts how MI5 sent the CIA a series of telegrams, made public at British High Court hearings this year, revealing the two men’s travel plans and repeating “false information”, including the allegation one of the men had carried a device that could be used for a home made bomb.

The report says that while the police finally decided the device was in fact only a battery charger on sale in stores such as Dixons and Argos, “there is no evidence that this information was ever conveyed to the CIA”.

It adds that the two men are still in Guantanamo Bay, adding that their “principal crime” is their acquaintance with a leading Islamist.

Tony Blair, quizzed on the matter at prime minister’s question time on Wednesday said: “We have said absolutely all we have to say on this. There is nothing more to add on it.’’

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