As you know, I gave evidence on Tuesday in Strasbourg before the Council of Europe Inquiry into Extraordinary Rendition. My evidence was on the willingness of the CIA to obtain information extracted under torture by foreign intelligence agencies, as the basis of the extraordinary rendition programme. I also provided documentary evidence of British government collusion with the CIA in obtaining torture intelligence.
On return from the Council of Europe, my suitcase has disappeared, including all my documents and notes and my laptop computer.
In dealing with the intelligence services, particularly in a situation which makes them hostile to you, there is a real danger of occasional paranoia. But it is a strange coincidence that on this particular occasion my computer and notes disappear, and a couple of factors make it stranger.
I flew Strasbourg to Paris Orly then Paris Orly to London City. This did not involve any change of terminal and there were a clear two hours between flights.
On arrival at London City, when my bag did not arrive, I went to the luggage desk to report it. The gentleman there affected surprise, waited for a while for the conveyor to clear, and then was taking down the details, including my name and the baggage check number. I spotted a handwritten piece of paper tucked under the keyboard of his computer – on which was already written my name and baggage check number. I challenged him on this, and he said that he had already received an email telling him my luggage was not on the plane.
Of course I wondered why he had not told me this, and why we had gone through the charade of waiting for the carousel to clear, and then asking me for details which he already had written down in front of him. Indeed, as he remained in front of his computer all the time, why would he have to copy down the email from his computer screen at all, and then lodge it under his computer, when he could just read the email off the screen?
When I returned home, I called the central Air France luggage number, and they told me that my suitcase had been located at Orly and was booked on the 7pm flight into London City. When it did not arrive, I phoned them again. They said that it had not been put on that flight, and was being held at the airport so it could not be rebooked on another flight. They could not tell me why it was being held, or who I might speak to about it.
An innocent explanation is not impossible, but it seems to me that the most probable explanation of these events is that the papers and computer of a witness to a Council of Europe inquiry have been intercepted by one member state, possibly acting in collusion with another State or States.
It is of course in the nature of such actions that it is difficult to prove, but I think the circumstances are such as to justify the CofE speaking to the French and British Ambassadors to make plain that the intimidation of witnesses before Senator Marty’s inquiry will not be accepted. They might ask them for a direct assurance that their employees have not intercepted or opened my baggage on the way back from Strasbourg, other than any search by customs etc not capable of being construed as in any way related to the subjects on which I gave evidence at the Council of Europe.