Swiss Senator Dick Marty hasasked US Senator John Kerry to be informed of any future report on alleged secret CIA detention facilities in Europe, according to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel:
The Council of Europe’s investigator already submitted a discreet request to the office of Democratic Senator John Kerry, who proposed the amendment, asking for information on the outcome of the report. Meanwhile, however, Marty can at least look forward to receiving informal help. In light of the heated debate over torture in Washington, the prospects of keeping the highly confidential report under wraps are slim.
The Washington Post reported that a network of secret CIA detention centres included facilities in Eastern Europe. Marty is investigating the claims for the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, while Kerry led the American Senate’s call for the Bush administration to issue a report on the “black sites”.
A leak may be necessary, because Marty is pessimistic about cooperation from the Bush administration, according to Reuters:
“It doesn’t seem like the U.S. government is helping us in this case,” said Marty …
“They can’t confirm or deny. They say they are at war, so it will be difficult to obtain information from their side,” he told reporters on Friday.
“It’s a pity , because a certain transparency would be to the advantage of everybody, including the U.S.”
Marty has so far found no evidence of “black sites” in Europe, but is investigating 31 alleged “extraordinary rendition” flights that landed in Europe. He has asked Eurosat for satellite imagry of sites in Poland and Romania and wants the air-traffic control body Eurocontrol to hand over records of the 31 planes’ movements.
The Handelsblatt reported that CIA sources had confirmed the existance of two secret prisons in Poland and Romania. There were additional sites in other European countries, the sources told the German business daily. Former Romanian president Ion Iliescu denied any involvement of his government in dentention facilities at Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, which were used by the US military during the Afghanistand and Iraq campaigns.
In addition, the former president said the CIA secret prisons issue is nothing more than a “diversion”. “It is an American dispute and Romania is one of the collateral victims. The U.S. and Romania authorities have never talked about this issue,” said Iliescu.
He also said that if the prisons exist, it means they were build without the authorities’ knowledge. “However, this possibility should not theoretically exist,” added Iliescu.
Handelsblatt also reported that CIA is still using European airports for stop-overs for its “extraordinary rendition” flights. CIA flights landed in the airbase at Ramstein and at Frankfurt airport, the paper reported, citing a high-ranking CIA official. Over the weekend, the Berliner Zeitung reported that at CIA flights have landed in Europe at least 15 times since the beginning of 2005.
The issue is also not going away in other European countries.
Handelsblatt also reports that Austria’s opposition has called on the government to make a formal complaint with President George W. Bush. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel visits Washington on 8 December.
Cyrprus’ Foreign Minister George Iacovou said he knew nothing of CIA planes landing in his country. Meanwhile, more evidence has emerged that some of the flights landed in Malta, according to the Malta Independent on Sunday:
Ongoing investigations by this newspaper into the use of Malta’s airport and airspace by the CIA have revealed the presence of another suspected plane — a Lockheed L-100 Hercules with tail number N8213G, which stopped over in Malta on 31 March 2004 and again on 25 August of the same year.
The Hercules is the latest plane implicated in extraordinary rendition and has been reported to have made several stops in Scandinavia. The Hercules, the largest of the CIA planes spotted in Malta, has space for cargo and about 100 passengers.
While the Boeing 737 and the Gulfstream are relatively nondescript aircraft, the Hercules carries a large ‘Prescott’ logo on its side. The private planes being used by the CIA are owned by shell companies and the Prescott Support company is widely believed to be one of the several companies serving as covers for the CIA’s clandestine prisoner transports.
Le Monde, meanwhile, reported that Council of Europe human rights commissioner Alvaro Gil Robles had seen a dentention facility at Camp Bondseel, the US base near Pristina, Kosovo that resembed “a smaller version of Guantánamo”, although he did not suggest they were linked to the “black sites” charge.