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CIA-Kidnappings: Document Request for EU/US Correspondence & Reports

 

Introduction

 

This page lists the correspondence between representatives of the European Union and the site owner with regards to his request for a listing of all EU reports and correspondence between the Council of the European Union and U.S. authorities regarding the “CIA rendition program”.

 

 

Events in Reversed Chronological Order

 

March 2nd, 2009 - 2nd Letter to Carlos Coelho, Member of the European Parliament

December 5th, 2008 - 1st Letter to Carlos Coelho, Member of the European Parliament

November 19th, 2008 - Letter from the Public Information Center of the EU Council

November 19th, 2008 - 3rd Reply from the EU Council

November 5th, 2008 - Acknowledgement of Receipt by European Ombudsman

November 3rd, 2008 - Complaint to European Ombudsman sent by Applicant

September 16th, 2008 - Request for clarification sent by applicant

August 28th, 2008 - 2nd Reply from the EU Council

August 6th, 2008 - 1st Reply from the EU Council

July 22nd, 2008 - 2nd Application (reports)

July 15th, 2008 - 1st Application (correspondence)

 

 

Correspondence/History

 

March 2nd, 2009 - 2nd Letter to Carlos Coelho, Member of the European Parliament

 

Dear Mr. Coelho,

 

about 3 months ago, I have sent you enclosed e-mail with a request for information with regards to certain representations that the EU Council had made in connection to documents requests.

 

Unfortunately I have not received an answer from your office until today, although your staff has told me in December that my letter to your office had been indeed forwarded to you.

 

With this letter I again send you the two questions that I had prior submitted to you office. As I had explained to your assistant, your answers are essential information with regards to my current document requests and the complaints I have filed with the office of the European Ombudsman.

 

Here are again my two questions:

 

1) Has the EU Council truthfully answered in an e-mail, cited below in my prior e-mail, that *no* conversations whatsoever between EU and Council representatives and US representatives took place, during which so-called “frameworks” were discussed in order to legalize the kidnapping activities of the US? Is it further true that that there were no conversations between Gijs de Vries and the U.S. government, where such issues were discussed?

 

2) In a document request from July 2008 I asked for a listing of all records or Council reports and all conversation, which the Council had with the US on the subject of the “rendition program”. […]

 

Finally, the Council provided me with the following list of documents:

 

http://www.expose-the-war-profiteers.org/archive/government/2008-2/20081119.pdf

 

I would like to know if the Council indeed provided me with a complete list of documents in correspondence to my request or if the list represents only a randomly selected fraction of all existing documents, as I am suspecting.

 

I appreciate your help and asistance.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Martin Ottmann

 

 

December 5th, 2008 - 1st Letter to Carlos Coelho, Member of the European Parliament

 

Dear Mr. Coelho,

 

as discussed with your staff on December 4th, 2008, I am sending you hereby an e-mail with questions with regards to the “CIA rendition program”.

 

For about 8 months I have been writing to the EU Council in order to get access to documents, which detail the dealings of the Council with US authorities regarding the “CIA rendition program”. So far I have had mixed results. I have had filed 4 different complaints to the European Ombudsman for the failure of the Council to disclose information on the “CIA renditon program”. There is still one active complaint before the Ombudsman and I am currently thinking about re-opening another complaint, which has been closed two weeks ago. […]

 

[…] My questions to you concern two representations made by the Council in connection with specific document requests.

 

A) Document COREU CFSP/SEC/1126/06, Classified Restreint UE

 

This document is a summary of the EU/US Troika meeting on May 3rd, 2006. The EU Council pointed towards this document upon my written request for further information on a mentioning in your report on the CIA kidnappings.

 

Originally I had asked for further information on point 25 and 26 of page 8 (Chapter “Cooperation with EU institutions and international organisations”) of the report from the Temporary Committee, which you had chaired:

 

“25. Is outraged by the proposal which was to have been made by the then Council Presidency to set-up a joint ‘framework’ with the US on standards for the rendition of terrorism suspects, as confirmed by those who took part in the meeting of the Council’s Working Party on Public International Law (COJUR) and the Transatlantic Relations Working Party (COTRA) with senior representatives of the US Department of State held in Brussels on 3 May 2006;

 

“26. Calls for the disclosure of the results of the discussions conducted with the United States, according to Gijs de Vries, on the definitions of ‘rendition’ and ‘extraordinary rendition’; […]”

 

The Council cited the above mentioned document and responded to my question as follows:

 

“1. There were no discussions between Gijs de Vries and the US on ‘renditions’. On May 3, 2006 a meeting of the EU-US dialogue on counter-terrorism and international law took place in troika format - there was no proposal to set up a ‘rendition framework’.”

 

My question: Was this a truthful answer from the Council or did conversations between EU and Council representatives and US representatives actullay took place, during which so-called “frameworks” were discussed in order to legalize the kidnapping activities of the US?

 

B) Document Request for EU/US Correspondence & Reports

 

In this document request from July 2008 I asked for a listing of all records or Council reports and all conversation, which the Council had with the US on the subject of the “rendition program”.

 

Among the documents, which the Council provided, was a letter that you wrote on October 3rd, 2006 to the then Finnish presidency of the Council. In that letter you stated:

 

‘Relying on the spirit of loyal cooperation between our institutions I had resolved to wait for a reply to my letter before deciding to bring to my Committee’s Members’ knowledge some other documents, which I have been given through unofficial channels.

 

‘It appears from these last mentioned documents that what has been attached to Herr Winkler’s letter are only selected parts of the COREUs they are taken from and does not reflect all the contacts nor the full scope of what has been really touched upon between European and American interlocutors. […]

 

 […] My question to you: Have there been more written conversations and reports on the ‘CIA rendition program’ than it was presented to me?

 

Sincerely yours

 

Martin Ottmann

 

 

November 19th, 2008 - Letter from the Public Information Center of the EU Council

 

Dear Mr. Ottmann,

 

Thank you very much for your email of 16 September 2008 and for clarifying your different requests for information. This was useful for us in reviewing your request.

 

Below, you will find answers to your public information queries, in application of the code of good administrative behaviour for the General Secretariat of the Council. Your requests for documents under Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 will be dealt with separately.

 

In the context of the political dialogue between the EU and the US, the EU has raised concerns regarding the respect of international law, including human rights law and international humanitarian law.

 

On the question of alleged rendition flights it is important to note that the supervision of intelligence and security service activity on the territory of Member States is a matter of Member State competence.

 

As regards the communication between the EU Council and the US Government on the subject of "rendition", we would like to draw your attention to the letter of 29 November 2005 by UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to which Mrs. Rice responded in a public declaration at Andrews Air force Base on 5 December 2005 before departing for Europe.

 

There have indeed been European requests for information, to which Secretary Rice replied in her public statement. "We have received inquiries from the European Union, the Council of Europe, and from several individual countries about media reports concerning U.S. conduct in the war on terror. I am going to respond now those inquiries, as I depart today for Europe. And this will also essentially form the text of the letter that I will send to Secretary Straw, who wrote on behalf of the European Union as the European Union President …”.

 

Furthermore, Legal Advisers from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the EU Member States, with the assistance of the EU Council Secretariat and the European Commission, and the Legal Adviser of the US State Department have been engaging in an in-depth dialogue on international law and various aspects of the counter-terrorism effort. The aim of the dialogue is to foster mutual understanding and to discuss improved ways of safeguarding human rights in the effort to counter terrorism. The dialogue encompasses complex legal issues under international law such as the rights of detainees apprehended in the course or the fight against terrorism.

 

The dialogue has highlighted the legal problems arising from the fight against terrorism. Although the dialogue has shown that there are differences of opinion between the US and the EU, it is allowing both parties to learn about the developments and the legal obligations within the EU and the US on these matters. The dialogue is contributing to a better understanding of how the fight against terrorisin should be carried out with respect for the rule of law and international law, including international human rights law.

 

The EU’s position is expressed inter alia in EU's Guidelines on Torture, the EU's IHL guidelines and the Council Conclusions of December 2006: "The Council reiterates that human rights, refugee law and international humanitarian law have to be respected and maintained when combating terrorism. The Council will continue to follow closely developments with regard to human rights in combating terrorism and take adequate measures for their protection. The EU remains firmly committed to the absolute prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. It guides our own actions and we raise our concerns with third countries. The existence of secret detention facilities where detained persons are kept in a legal vacuum is not in conformity with international humanitarian and human rights law."

 

There has not been any written communication between the EU and the US about "rendition" specifically. However, EU views on international law principles applicable to the fight against terrorism have been shared with the US, to which the US has responded. US State Department Legal Adviser Bellinger has widely spoken and published on US positions regarding the interpretation of international law in the fight against terrorism.

 

Regarding your second request about Council minutes and records about the "rendition programme": There have not been specific meetings devoted to the topic, but it was raised in some sessions of the informal EU-US dialogue on international law.

 

In 2006, some meetings took place in troika format. A report has been drawn up on one of these meetings.

 

We hope that this provides useful elements regarding your request.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Public information service

 

 

November 19th, 2008 - 3rd Reply from the EU Council

 

Dear Mr. Ottmann,

 

Thank you for your e-mail of 16 September 2008 in response to our letter of 28 August 2008 in which you have clarified the scope of your requests.

 

Due to a clerical error, for which the General Secretary of the Council sincerely apologize, your request of 22 July was erroneously considered to be identical to the request introduced on 15 July. The reply to your request of 22 July is set out below.

 

As regards your first request, dated 15 July 2008, the General Secretariat has - as a result of the extensive research carried out during the examination of your second request - identified one document, which, in view of its content, is covered by your first request. The document concerned is a letter of 29 November 2005, addressed by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 

Following its examination of the document on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Official Journal L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43) and the specific provisions concerning public access to Council documents set out in Annex II to the Council's Rules of Procedure (Council Decision No 2006/683/EC, Euratom, Official Journal L 285, 16.10.2006, p. 47), the General Secretariat has come to the conclusion that you may have access to this letter.

 

The second request concerns:

 

- a listing of all written/electronic reports, memoranda, protocols, minutes and notes by the EU Council, which have been written between September 11th, 2001 and July 22nd, 2008 with regard to all aspects of the so-called 'extraordinary U.S. rendition program', i.e.

 

a) the illegal kidnapping of individuals by federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

b) the illegal detention by or on behalf of federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

c) the illegal transportation of so-called 'battlefield detainees'/'unlawful combatants' and 'terror suspects' by federal agencies of the U.S. government using airspace and airports belonging to the territory of the European Union.

 

The General Secretariat has examined this request on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Official Journal L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43) and the specific provisions concerning public access to Council documents set out in Annex II to the Council's Rules of Procedure (Council Decision No 2006/683/EC, Euratom, Official Journal L 285, 16.10.2006, p. 47), and has come to the following conclusion:

 

Preliminary remark:

 

Pursuant to Council Decision 2001/264/EC of 19 March 2001 adopting the Council's security regulations (OJ L 101, 11.4.2001, p. 12), the following level of classification applies:

 

"RESTREINT UE": this classification shall be applied to information and material the unauthorised disclosure of which could be disadvantageous to the interests of the European Union or of one or more of its Member States.

 

Altogether 24 documents have been identified as being covered by your request. The documents concerned can be divided into three categories:

 

Documents to which you may have full access:

 

1)       16821/06

2)       11644/06

3)       10228/06

4)       10496/06

5)       11313/06

6)       11513/06

7)       12539/06

8)       13038/06

9)       13289/06

10)     13857/06

11)     13857/1/06 REV 1

12)     14000/06

13)     15377/06

14)     15860/06

15)     15859/06

16)     15908/06

17)     16204/06

18)     16376/06

19)     17087/06

20)     5448/07

21)     5670/07.

 

Documents to which you may have partial access:

 

22) Document 14396/06 is a letter from Mr Carlos Coelho, President of the TDIP Temporary Committee of the European Parliament to Mr Erkki Tuomioja, President of the Council of the European Union

 

You may have access to this document except for one part, the disclosure of which would prejudice relations between the European Union and the United States and to which the General Secretariat is unable to grant you access pursuant to Article 4 (1)(a), third indent, of the Regulation (protection of the public interest with regard to international relations).

 

23) Document 15509/07 is a note from COJUR to the Political and Security Committee on the EU-US dialogue on international law and the fight against terrorism (classified as RESTREINT UE)

 

You may have access to this document except for those parts, the disclosure of which would hamper the on-going discussions with the US on these issues and prejudice relations between the European Union and the United States. Pursuant to Article 4(1)(a), third indent, of the Regulation (protection of the public interest with regard to international relations) the General Secretariat is unable to grant you access to these parts of the document. However, pursuant to Article 4(6) of the Regulation, you may have access to those parts of the document which are not covered by this exception. You will find them in document 15509/07 EXT 1.

 

Documents to which access must be refused:

 

24) Document 14483/06 is an "I" item note from the Presidency to the Permanent Representatives Committee (Part 2) concerning a letter of the European Parliament on transmission of information to the Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European Countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners = Approval of a reply (classified as RESTREINT UE)

 

Disclosure of the content of this document would prejudice relations between the European Union and the United States. Pursuant to Article 4 (1)(a), third indent, of the Regulation (protection of the public interest with regard to international relations) the General Secretariat is unable to grant you access to this document.

 

Under Article 7(2) of the Regulation, you have 15 working days to submit a confirmatory application for the Council to review its position.

 

The General Secretariat sincerely apologizes for the exceptionally long delay in answering to your request. It has conducted extensive internal consultations within its relevant services in order to identify documents which could be of interest to you and this has unfortunately taken much longer than usual. However, the General Secretariat can assure you that your request has been dealt with as thoroughly as possible.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

For the General Secretariat

 

Ramón Jiménez Fraile

 

 

November 5th, 2008 - Acknowledgement of Receipt by European Ombudsman

 

Dear Sir/Dear Madam,

 

Your complaint dated 03/11/2008 was received by the Office of the European Ombudsman on 03/11/2008 and was assigned registration number 2941/2008/TS.

 

It will be dealt with by Ms Tea Sevon […]

 

The Ombudsman can only make inquiries into complaints that meet the criteria of admissiblity set out in the Treaty establishing the European Community and the Statute of the European Ombudsman. Information concerning the admissibility of your complaint will be communicated to you as soon as possible. […]

 

Sincerely yours,

 

João Sant’Anna

Head of the legal department

 

 

November 3rd, 2008 - Complaint sent to European Ombudsman by Applicant

 

[…] Question 2 = Council of the European Union

 

[…] Question 4 = The Council has failed to respond to my request for clarification that I have sent by e-mail on September 16th, 2008[.]

 

[…] Question 5 = The Council should reply to my e-mail from September 16th, 2008.

 

Specifically it should reply to 1) my question with regards to my first request from July 15th, 2008. 2) to my second request from July 22nd, 2008, which has not been answered at all.

 

Question 6 = As I have mentioned above, I have sent the Council an e-mail for clarification on September 16th, 2008. Nevertheless, I have not received an answer.

 

Question 7 = Yes. On August 6th, 2008 the Council informed me that the time-limit to my original request from July 15th, 2008 has been extended for another 15 days. I then received the second reply by the Council on August 28th, 2008. Since I have sent my reply on September 16th, 2008, I have not received an answer anymore. […]

 

 

September 16th, 2008 - Request for clarification sent by applicant

 

Dear Sirs,

 

thank your for your letter from August 28th, 2008.

 

1. In your response to my two requests, you wrote:

 

"[...] On 23 July 2008 you re-introduced this request, changing the second date in the first paragraph of your message to 'July 22nd, 2008' [...]."

 

Please be aware that I have sent you two different requests for information on documents with regards to the CIA rendition program. The first request, which you have cited correctly in your answer, dealt with   any existing written correspondence between the EU Council and the US government on the issue of the CIA rendition program.

 

The second request, which I have indeed sent you on July 22nd, 2008 via your website, dealt with any existing reports, memoranda on the CIA rendition program by the EU Council.

 

Here is the exact wording of my request from July 22nd, 2008:

 

"I hereby request a listing of all written/electronic reports, memoranda, protocols, minutes and notes by the EU Council, which have been written between September 11th, 2001 and July 22nd, 2008 with regards to all aspects of the so-called 'extraordinary U.S. rendition program', i. e.

 

a) the illegal kidnapping of individuals by federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

b) the illegal detention by or on behalf of federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

c) the illegal transportation of so-called 'battlefield detainees'/'unlawful combatants' and 'terror suspects' by federal agencies of the U.S. government using airspace and airports belonging to the territory of the European Union.

 

The listing should contain the date, the title, the index number, the sender, the addressee and a short description of the contents of each individual document."

 

As you can see, this request is distinctive different from the first one from July 15th, 2008.

 

Please treat this second request from July 22nd, 2008 as a separate request for information. I understand that there has been some misunderstanding over the content and the subject of the request, but I hope that it is clear by now, what I am asking for.

 

2. With regards to my first request, you stated:

 

"Having examined the requests, the General Secretariat has come to the conclusion that no such documents can be identified within the General Secretariat of the Council."

 

This is indeed an astounding information and I ask you to confirm my understanding of your answer: Is it therefore true that since September 11th, 2001 there has been not a single written communication between the EU Council and the US government on the subject of the CIA rendition program - despite the various illegal activities in EU countries and two reports on the subject both by the EU Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe?

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Martin Ottmann

 

 

August 28th, 2008 - 2nd Reply from the EU Council

 

Dear Mr Ottmann,

 

Your request of 15 July 2008 has been registered by the "Access to Documents" unit. It concerns the following:

 

"…. a listing of all written/electronic correspondence between the EU Council and the federal government of the United States of America between September 11th, 2001 and July 14th, 2008 with regards to all aspects of the so-called “extraordinary rendition program”, i. e.

 

a) the illegal kidnapping of individuals by federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

 

b) the illegal detention by or on behalf of federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

 

c) the illegal transportation of so-called “battlefield detainees”/“unlawful combatants” and “terror suspects” by federal agencies of the U.S. government using airspace and airports belonging to the territory of the European Union.

 

The listing should contain the date, the title, the index number, the sender, the addressee and a short description of the contents of each individual document.".

 

On 23 July 2008 you re-introduced this request, changing the second date in the first paragraph of your message to "July 22nd, 2008".

 

Thank you for your interest.

 

The General Secretariat of the Council has examined your requests on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Official Journal L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43) and the specific provisions concerning public access to Council documents set out in Annex II to the Council's Rules of Procedure (Council Decision No 2006/683/EC, Euratom, Official Journal L 285, 16.10.2006, p. 47).

 

On 6 and 13 August 2008, the time-limit for replying to your applications was extended by 15 working days. Having examined the requests, the General Secretariat has come to the conclusion that no such documents can be identified within the General Secretariat of the Council.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

For the General Secretariat

 

Ramón Jiménez Fraile

 

 

August 6th, 2008 - 1st Reply from the EU Council

 

Dear Mr Ottmann,

 

Your request of 15 July 2008 for access to Council documents has been registered by the "Access to Documents" unit. Thank you for your interest.

 

On account of the heavy workload caused by the very large number of requests received and the scope of your request, the time-limit for the General Secretariat to reply to your application has to be extended by 15 working days, in accordance with Article 7(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Official Journal L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

For the General Secretariat

 

Ramón Jiménez Fraile

 

 

July 22nd, 2008 - Request to EU Council for Listing of Reports on “CIA Rendition Program”

 

[…] I hereby request a listing of all written/electronic reports, memoranda, protocols, minutes and notes by the EU Council, which have been written between September 11th, 2001 and July 22nd, 2008 with regards to all aspects of the so-called “extraordinary U.S. rendition program”, i. e.

 

a) the illegal kidnapping of individuals by federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

 

b) the illegal detention by or on behalf of federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

 

c) the illegal transportation of so-called “battlefield detainees”/“unlawful combatants” and “terror suspects” by federal agencies of the U.S. government using airspace and airports belonging to the territory of the European Union.

 

The listing should contain the date, the title, the index number, the sender, the addressee and a short description of the contents of each individual document. […]

 

 

July 15th, 2008 - Request to EU Council for Listing of Correspondence with US Authorities

 

Dear Sirs,

 

I hereby request a listing of all written/electronic correspondence between the EU Council and the federal government of the United States of America between September 11th, 2001 and July 14th, 2008 with regards to all aspects of the so-called “extraordinary rendition program”, i. e.

 

a) the illegal kidnapping of individuals by federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

 

b) the illegal detention by or on behalf of federal agencies of the U.S. government on the territory of the European Union,

 

c) the illegal transportation of so-called “battlefield detainees”/“unlawful combatants” and “terror suspects” by federal agencies of the U.S. government using airspace and airports belonging to the territory of the European Union.

 

The listing should contain the date, the title, the index number, the sender, the addressee and a short description of the contents of each individual document.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Martin Ottmann

 

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