Daily archives: April 30, 2006

European Inquiry Says C.I.A. Flew 1,000 Flights in Secret

From the New York Times

BRUSSELS, April 26 ‘ Investigators for the European Parliament said Wednesday that data gathered from air safety regulators and others found that the Central Intelligence Agency had flown 1,000 undeclared flights over European territory since 2001.

Sometimes the planes stopped to pick up terrorism suspects who had been kidnapped to take them to countries that use torture, the investigators added.

The operation used the same American agents and the same planes over and over, they said, though they could not say how many flights involved the transport of suspects.

The investigation, by a committee looking into C.I.A. counterterrorism activities in Europe, also concluded that European countries, including Italy, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina, were aware of the abductions or transfers and therefore might have been complicit.


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EU Parliament enquiry whitewash?

From the New York Times

BRUSSELS, April 20 ‘ The European Union’s antiterrorism chief told a hearing on Thursday that he had not been able to prove that secret C.I.A. prisons existed in Europe.

“We’ve heard all kinds of allegations,” the official, Gijs de Vries, said before a committee of the European Parliament. “It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”

But Mr. de Vries came under criticism from some legislators who called the hearing a whitewash. Kathalijne Buitenweg, a Dutch member of Parliament from the Green Party, said that even without definitive proof, “the circumstantial evidence is stunning.”

“I’m appalled that we keep calling to uphold human rights while pretending that these rendition centers don’t exist and doing nothing about it,” she said.

Many European nations were outraged after an article in The Washington Post in November cited unidentified intelligence officials as saying that the C.I.A. had maintained detention centers for terrorism suspects in eight countries, including some in Eastern Europe. A later report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch cited Poland and Romania as two of the countries.

Both countries, as well as others in Europe, have denied the allegations. But the issue has inflamed trans-Atlantic tensions.

Mr. de Vries said the European Parliament investigation had not uncovered rights abuses despite more than 50 hours of testimony by rights advocates and people who say they were abducted by C.I.A. agents. A similar investigation by the Council of Europe, the European human rights agency, came to the same conclusion in January ‘ though the leader of that inquiry, Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, said then that there were enough “indications” to justify continuing the investigation.

A number of legislators on Thursday challenged Mr. de Vries for not taking seriously earlier testimony before the committee of a German and a Canadian who gave accounts of being kidnapped and kept imprisoned by foreign agents.

The committee also heard Thursday from a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who said: “I can attest to the willingness of the U.S. and the U.K. to obtain intelligence that was got under torture in Uzbekistan. If they were not willing, then rendition prisons could not have existed.” But Mr. Murray, who was recalled from his job in 2004 after condemning the Uzbek authorities and criticizing the British and American governments, told the committee that he had no proof that detention centers existed within Europe.

He said he had witnessed such rendition programs in Uzbekistan, but he seemed to back up Mr. de Vries’s assertion when he said he was not aware of anyone being taken to Uzbekistan from Europe. “As far as I know, that never happened,” he said.

While he was ambassador, Mr. Murray made many public statements condemning the government of President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan for its poor human rights record.

At the time, the Bush administration was using Uzbekistan as a base for military operations in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Murray, who has remained an outspoken critic of American and British policy toward Uzbekistan, has since been criticized by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain for breaching diplomatic protocol.

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Diplomat: US, UK used torture information

From ISN

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Monday, 24 April 2006: 6.00 CET)

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has told European Parliament that British and US intelligence services had used information related to the “war on terror” obtained from tortured suspects.

“Under the UK-US intelligence sharing agreement the US and UK have taken a policy decision that they will get testimonies obtained under torture in third countries. I say that with regret and with certainty,” the Brussels-based Dtt-Net.com news agency quoted Murray as telling European lawmakers on Thursday.

The European Parliament is investigating allegations that the CIA used European airbases to transfer terror suspects to countries where they could be tortured. The Council of Europe has already concluded that the CIA flights took place with the tacit approval of EU governments.

Murray said he saw “evidence of scores of cases of torture in Uzbekistan”, including people boiled to death, photos of serious injuries, mutilation of genitals, rape of individual in front of their relatives “until they would sign a confession”.

He said the CIA and MI6 did not participate in the interrogations, but did share information obtained from them.

Murray served as ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.

He told European parliamentarians that he had shared his concerns with the British Foreign Office, but the conclusion was reached that “we should continue to receive intelligence material obtained from confessions under torture and that this would not contravene the UN Convention against Torture”.

According to Dtt.net.com, Murray said Foreign Office legal advisor Michael Wood replied in a letter that the UN Convention against torture only forbids information obtained under torture “to be invoked as evidence in any proceedings”.

“In this way, the British formal position can be maintained when they say ‘we do not condone, use or instigate torture’,” Murray was quoted as saying.

Murray was forced to leave his post in 2004 after condemning Uzbek authorities for their poor human rights record. As ambassador to Uzbekistan, Murray had also been a vocal critic of the British and US for what he said amounted to ignoring corruption and brutality in the former Soviet republic.

Murray’s protests led him to leave the civil service.

The former ambassador said these events left a “lack of credibility of the intelligence material obtained, intended to paint the false picture that Uzbekistan opposition people were linked to al-Qaida and bin Laden”.

Regarding reports of CIA secret detention centers in Eastern Europe, Murray said he had no evidence of their existence.

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Germany Accused of Accepting Information Gained Under Torture

From Deutche Weller

A former British ambassador to Uzbekistan turned up the heat on Germany Thursday when he told a European Parliament committee that Germany had received information “most certainly obtained under torture” in Uzbekistan.

The allegations emerged when the European Parliament committee, currently investigating allegations of CIA human rights abuses made last year by human rights groups and the media, questioned former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray.

Murray’s 21-year diplomatic career came to an end two years ago, when he accused the United States and Britain of endorsing torture by using confessions obtained through torture from prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Speaking in Brussels Thursday, Murray reiterated that the CIA transported prisoners from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan to obtain confessions in former Soviet jails by using torture.

The US has acknowledged secret renditions but has denied endorsing torture.

Asked about allegations of secret flights operated by the CIA from Europe, Murray said he had no evidence proving flights from EU countries but categorically knew that flights had transported ethnic Uzbeks from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan.

Murray went on to claim that the German secret service worked in close proximity with the Uzbeks and continues to do so, stressing that he had no doubt that Germany used information “most certainly obtained under torture,” by the Uzbek secret service, and insisting that he had seen with his own eyes prisoners who had clearly been victims of brutal mistreatment.

As far as he knew, neither Americans not Europeans were actually present during torture sessions, but the information elicited was passed on both to the CIA and Britain’s MI6.

Asked by the committee at the European Parliament who, apart from the CIA and MI6, had been working together with Uzbekistan, Murray replied that the only embassy with which the Uzbeks have had full co-operation was the German embassy.

He also said he had the impression that many officials at the German embassy were very concerned by the co-operation, a conclusion he reached after “private conversations,” which he was not prepared to discuss with the committee.

German parliamentarians have demanded an immediate investigation into Murray’s claims, with one member of parliament for the Green party, Hans-Christian Str’bele, also advising that the enquiry should take place in the public eye.

Wolfang Kreissl-D’rfler of the SPD party, says that Murray’s claims raised serious questions that demanded answers.

The European Parliament’s committee has heard several cases by alleged victims of CIA secret flights. One such victim was the German citizen Khaled Al-Masri, who was flown to Afghanistan and held for several months as a terrorist suspect by the United States.

The European Union’s anti-terrorism co-ordinator says that there is no proof yet that the CIA organised secret flights and ran detention centers for terror suspects. But a group of EU lawmakers is set to travel to Washington DC in May to meet with the CIA chief Porter Goss and further investigate the allegations.

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West used information secured under torture, ex-diplomat says

From EU Observer (20.04.06)

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – A British former envoy to Uzbekistan has revealed that western secret services obtained intelligence secured under torture from foreign detainees, with MEPs criticising the EU anti-terror coordinator for spinelessness.

Speaking before the European Parliament’s temporary committee on CIA activities in Europe on Thursday (20 April), Craig Murray said that UK intelligence had obtained information from detainees tortured by Uzbek security forces. He alerted British foreign minister, Jack Straw, of the methods used by Uzbek intelligence as far back as 2003.

“There is a plenty of evidence about torture carried out in Uzbekistan and I know that foreign minister Jack Straw officially approved using the information obtained through torture,” Mr Murray said, citing a secret report from a meeting held on 3 March 2003.

The German secret service was also cooperating very closely with its Uzbek counterpart, he added, while Britain and the US had taken a policy decision to obtain intelligence under torture in other countries as well.

“I say this with great pain but with absolute certainty,” the ex-ambassador stated.


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