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The CIA in Europe - Kidnappings and Secret Detentions

 

Archive on EU and National Government & NGO Reports - Year 2006

 

 

December 20th, 2006 - Announcements and Exchange of Views

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

December 14th, 2006 - Exchange of Views on the Draft Final Report/CIA Report

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

December 14th, 2006 - “Dear Mr. President, …”

Letter by Javier Solana, Secretary General, Council of the European Union

 

December 6th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Mr Ahern opened his statement by telling the Committee that he was very surprised to see that the Committee’s draft report was in the public domain the day before the Irish Prime Minister visited the European Parliament and two days before Mr Ahern himself visited the Committee. His government had at the very least expected that no conclusions would be drawn in respect of Ireland until it had had a chance to make its position clear. The Irish government had made it clear on repeated occasions that it was completely opposed to the practice of extraordinary rendition, and had made this point of view clear to the highest level of the US government over an extended period of time, even a year before the revelations in the Washington Post and Human Rights Reports in November 2005. It had sought and been given authoritative assurances from the US that no prisoners had been transferred through Irish territory, nor would they be without the consent of the Irish government. These assurances were of particular clarity and authority, and not as general or even ambiguous as the assurances that other governments had obtained. […]

 

“Asked by several members about the diplomatic assurances given to Ireland by the US, Mr Ahern said that the assurances had been given by political heads of government and on administrative level. He repeated that the assurances given meant that no prisoners had been transferred through Irish territory and no prisoners would be transferred through Irish territory without the consent of the government. Asked why the government did not follow the advice of the Irish Human Rights Commission, Mr Ahern said that he had a full legal team at his department which gave him advice on human rights issues. […]”

 

December 5th, 2006 - Report on the Legislators’ Dialogue 62nd EP/US Congress Meeting

Report by the Delegation for Relations with the US of the European Parliament

 

“[…] With regard to international terrorism, the European side underlined that the EU and US were the biggest allies in this fight, but its root causes should be tackled. Furthermore, a difficult balance had to be struck in maintinging human rights (including right to privacy) whilst fighting against terrorism. The EU and the US should avoid embarking on collision courses in this area. With regard to specific issues, the CIA rendition flights, Passenger name records (PNR) and exchange of SWIFT data were mentioned.

 

“The Administration had admitted to CIA rendition flights, but there had been no substantial discussion in Congress: for the EP, the legality of abducting people was out of the question, and it had instituted a special temporary committee on this subject. It was hoped that the new majority in Congress would be helpful in clearing up this issue.

 

“On privacy, it was remarked that US legislation protected privacy of US citizens only; Congress and the EP ‘should sit down together’ to discuss common data protection

 

“The US side indicated that, of course, there could not be a discussion ‘on the legality of torture’, but there was no doubt that terrorists who want to harm Western civilisation and societies are very active, as Europeans have seen when the London and Madrid bombings occurred. There are States which support terrorism (such as Iran), and the EU should make suggestions on the best way to stop terrorists as well as transfers of nuclear material and of money used for financing their activities. Would the EU support sanctions against Iran, and take the leadership on this issue? In any case, terrorism would accompany us for a long time.

 

“According to some views on the American side, in the next Congress there would be ‘more accountability’ in this whole area. […]”

 

December 4th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Dr. Manning

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

November 27th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr. Bernhard Docke & Mr. Kurnaz

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

November 27th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr Petritsch, Former High Representative

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Mr Petritsch opened with a brief remark concerning the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time of the events regarding the so called Algerian Six (January 2002). […]

 

“Several members wanted to know what action Mr Petritsch had taken with regard to the Algerian Six, and if he had or could have done anything to prevent their handing over to the US. Mr Petritsch replied that the matter of the Algerian Six was a matter between the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the US administration, and that the international community was de facto and formally excluded from the event. The matter clearly being a bilateral one between the US and Bosnia-Herzegovina, he had not received any official or informal information about it from the US before the handing over. What had happened could not have been foreseen. According to the information he had received, there had been no active participation from the International Police Task Force (ITPF) in the handing over. Once the men were in Guantánamo Bay, his office had worked for a clarification of the matter from the US, and asked the US administration to correct the situation. The efforts of his office had however not been successful. […]

 

“Mr Petritsch explained that the question of naturalised Mujahedin members who had fought on the Bosnian side during the war, had been a matter of interest even before 9/11, but became a huge issue after that date. At the time of the handing over of the six men, there was an enormous pressure to deal with terrorism. The US enjoyed great sympathy in Bosnia-Herzegovina, since they had stopped the war. Europeans on the other hand were seen as doing very little. The massacre of Srebrenica had also affected opinion on the political stance of Europe. While it might not have been explicit, it was clear to every one involved that the US wanted to see action with regard to terrorism-related issues. It was very clear that the government had to deliver and international actors had to be extremely cautious about what they said and did. […]”

 

November 24th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Ms Przewlocka, Form. Dir. of Szymany Airport

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Ms Przewlocka told the Committee that she had been working at the airport between 2001 and 2005. During 2001-2003 she was the head of the technical unit and was responsible for the airport infrastructure. From 2003 she was the director of the airport.

 

“Asked about the procedures for landing of the suspicious Golfstreams that passed through the airport in 2002 and 2003, Ms Przewlocka confirmed that there had been special procedures for these aircraft. The flights were considered to be ‘special flights’. One or two days before the arrival of such a special flight, the airport would receive a call from the border guard and one from the military staff. No information was passed on to customs. When the aircraft landed two border guards walked out to it. The aircraft did not park at the terminal but was positioned at the end of the runway. The aircraft always parked with the front directed towards the forest. It was not possible from the control tower or the terminal to see if people got on or off the plane, but Ms Przewlocka could not dismiss with 100 percent certainty the possibility that no detained person was taken off the plane. The border guards, who were the only ones that could approach, stayed at the aircraft for a few minutes and then left. Once they had left, vans with dark windows and Polish army registration plates drove out to the plane. Once the vans had been there, the aircraft took off again. Ms Przewlocka thought that the vans went to the quarters of the special military unit, since they had specific registration plates of that military unit. She could not confirm the information which Mr Catania (GUE/NGL, IT) had obtained that someone had followed the vans to a base about 20 km from the airport. Asked to clarify who was present when the flights landed, she said that no military staff were present, only the border guards. Mr Fava had understood that once the border guards had left the aircraft, and the vans were there, no Poles were present. Ms Przewlocka confirmed this. […]

 

“Ms Przewlocka informed the Committee that she had been called to the local customs authority in an inquiry. It was not an inquiry to clarify what had happened. Instead, she had been criticised for not following procedure for the landings. She had no knowledge of any inquiry by the Polish government to shed light on the landings. The investigations by the customs authority had started in June or July 2006. Asked whether the investigation had opened before or after she had participated in a film by Canal+ about the CIA-flights, she said it was after. She had not thought about that before, but now she saw it quite clearly. She had lost her job in 2005. She did not want to comment on any potential link between the investigation and the fact that she had lost her job. No-one had put pressure on her with regard to her visit to the Temporary Committee of the European Parliament. […]”

 

November 21st, 2006 - Document 15404/06 (Partially Accessible to the Public)

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

November 16th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr Davis, Secretary General of the EC

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

October 24th, 2006 - “Dear Josep, …”

Letter by Geoff Hoon, Minister for Europe, U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office

 

October 16th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr Spataro, Prosecutor (Milan, Italy)

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] In his introductory remarks, Mr Spataro informed the Committee that the investigations regarding the kidnapping of Abu Omar in 2003 had been closed on 6 October 2006. Referring to questions put by Members at his previous appearance in the Committee regarding the possible cooperation by or knowledge of the Italian government in the kidnapping of Abu Omar, Mr Spataro emphasised that there were still no evidence of any such involvement.

 

“During his investigations, he had interrogated or interviewed several persons from the Carabinieri and from SISMI, the Italian intelligence service. Among them were Mr Pironi from the Carabinieri, Mr D’Ambrosio, SISMI station chief in Milan at the time, Mr Mancini, head of the counterintelligence division of SISMI, General Pignero, SISMI agency chief for Northern Italy, and the head of the SISMI station in Trieste. He had wanted to interrogate Mr Pollari, the head of SISMI, but the latter had refused to answer any questions since the information that he had was covered by state secrecy.

 

“During interrogations, the Carabineri official Mr Pironi had admitted that he had taken part in the kidnapping by asking Abu Omar for his identification papers. He had used the opportunity of the identity check to take Abu Omar to the van in which he was abducted. According to Mr Pironi, the kidnapping had been prepared by the CIA and SISMI. SISMI had assisted by carrying out checks and observing Abu Omar for a certain period of time. Mr Pironi had agreed to take part in the kidnapping because he was told that SISMI was involved and with the hope that Mr Robert Lady, the CIA station chief in Milan, would help him to be transferred from the Carabinieri to SISMI. Mr Pironi did not know who the other people involved were, but there were two persons who spoke Italian. One he only heard briefly, the other he spoke with for a long time, and he spoke very good Italian.

 

“The identity of these persons had not been established. Mr D’Ambrosio, SISMI station chief in Milan, had told the prosecutors that it was Mr Castelli, CIA station chief in Rome and responsible for the CIA in Italy, who had planned the Abu Omar kidnapping, and that Mr Robert Lady had been opposed to the plan. According to Mr D’Ambrosio, Mr Robert Lady had asked him to tell his superiors about the plan, in the hope that SISMI would prevent CIA from going ahead with it. Mr D’Ambrosio had raised the matter with his superior, Mr Mancini, head of the counterintelligence division of SISMI.

 

“According to Mr D’Ambrosio, Mr Mancini had not expressed any views on the matter, and only asked whether Mr Lady was the source of the information, which Mr D’Ambrosio had confirmed. Mr D’Ambrosio was not able to go above Mancini, who said that he would convey the message to his superiors. Shortly thereafter, Mr D’Ambrosio was forced to leave the Milan office. Some time later he also left SISMI. The head of the Trieste SISMI office had said that he had been approached by Mr Mancini who had asked if he would be counted on for using ‘unorthodox methods’ with regard to terrorists. He refused and was transferred around the same time as Mr D’Ambrosio. In their investigations, the prosecutor had intercepted telephone communications between General Pignero, and Mr Mancini. The latter had expressed concerns that the prosecutor might identify people who on his orders had carried out checks on Abu Omar in preparation of the kidnapping. Mr Mancini admitted having organised a meeting of SISMI heads from northern Italy where it was decided to carry out the checks.

 

“According to Mr Mancini, General Pollari, the head of SISMI, had given him a list of names, including the name of Abu Omar, and given him indications to keep Abu Omar under observation in the run-up to the kidnapping. Mr Mancini had said that SISMI was only involved in the surveillance before the kidnapping. Mr Spataro had not found any evidence that SISMI had taken part in the kidnapping itself. General Pollari had refused to answer any questions, claiming that the information that he had was classified as a state secret which if revealed would compromise Italy’s relations with other governments. […]”

 

October 13th, 2006 - Exchange of Views on the Outcome of the Mission of a Delegation to Berlin

Report (2) by the Council of the European Union

 

October 11th, 2006 - Exchange of Views on the Outcome of the Mission of a Delegation to Berlin

Report (1) by the Council of the European Union

 

October 3rd, 2006 - “Dear President […]”

Letter by Carlos Coelho, Chairman of the TDIP Temporary Committee

 

“Dear President, I first would like to thank the Council for the reply it has given to my letter of 18 May 2006 […], addressed to your predecessor as President of the Council of the European Union, Frau Ursula Plassnik, and sent on 29 June 2006 by the Austrian Foreign Affairs State Secretary, Herr Hans Winkler […].

 

“As you know I had then requested more information on contacts between internal bodies of the Council with the US Administration concerning methods for combating terrorism and the legal approach followed and interpreted by both sides.

 

“I acknowledge receipt of the summaries of proceedings attached to Herr Winkler’s letter and confirm to you that I have taken all necessary steps to ensure their confidential treatment, as requested.

 

“I cannot support however that such a treatment be requested [redacted].

 

“Concerning internal documents of the Council, established by its Secretariat General, and circulated as “COREUs” to the Member States and the Commission, it is for my Committee unacceptable that the consent of a third State ought to be required before deciding on the transmission of such internal EU documents to another EU institution.

 

“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 selcted 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.

 

“You will understand that legitimate concerns have been reinforced as far as evidences [sic] and official statements by the US Administration have confirmed the existence of the alleged practices at the heart of my Committee’s remit.

 

“I therefore would like to appeal to the Finnish Presidency’s and to its commitment in favour of full transparency of EU’s activities. I also seize this opportunity to invite you to appear before the Committee I am chairing as soon as possible to bring all light on the state of the legal and political dialogue the Union has conducted so far with the United States on the fight against terrorism and the methods applied in this context, and on the possible involvement of EU-related bodies in illegal actions. In this connection I strongly urge you to provide my Committee with full cooperation in handing over all the missing information (minutes or summaries of proceedings) concerning discussions between Council bodies and US representatives.

 

“Refusing to fully inform the European Parliament would be regarded as a breach of the Treaties’ obligations of loyal cooperation between the institutions and of Parliament’s information under articles 21 and 39 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

 

“Our common attachment to the principles, values and rights, as enshrined in Article 6 TEU, should be reflected in an active search for the truth of all EU institutions and EU Member States, acceding, candidate and associated countries.

 

“All of us are acccountable to our citizens and to all in the world who trust in Europe.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Carlos Coelho

 

September 20th, 2006 - Exchanges of Views with Invited Speakers

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

September 7th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Carlo Bonini, Journalist of “La Repubblica”, Italy

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Mr Coelho introduced Mr Bonini - an Italian investigative journalist dealing with national and international cases, including that of Abu Omar. Mr Bonini has been questioned by the Italian authorities and his computer has being searched. […]

 

“Mr Fava (PSE, IT) raised the question of the responsibilities of the Italian and US intelligence. Given that there seems to exist in Italy an agency dealing with particular information from journalists, he wanted to know how it worked, what its structure was and whether Mr Bonini was actually a victim of this particular agency. He also referred to an article by Mr Bonini of 8 July 2006 mentioning a carabinieri marshal who confessed to having taken part in the arrest of Abu Omar and asked whether Mr Bonini had any further information.

 

“Mr Bonini replied that he had found out about the existence of that secret agency in July 2006. Around 5 July, custody measures were taken by the police and his office was searched. He added that the task of the agency seemed to be the collection of data and its transfer to military secret services. He concluded that that office was not simply carrying out studies and gathering information, but rather manipulating information and trying to manipulate public opinion through disinformation. At least one case is known of a professional Italian journalist who was used to try to obtain certain information. Moreover, he claimed that a false dossier was created in order to suggest the involvement of Mr Prodi and that a campaign of disinformation was launched after the Abu Omar case. According to Mr Bonini, it is clear that Italian services were aware of Abu Omar rendition. Although Mr Pironi was the only one who admitted to having been involved in the Abu Omar rendition, investigations by the prosecutor of Milan revealed that the secret services at middle-management level were also involved in the arrest. […]”

 

July 11th, 2006 - Exchange of views with Mr. Hofmann, Munich prosecutor

Report by the Council of the Euorpean Union

 

“[…] After having given account of the testimony of Mr El-Masri, Mr Hofmann told the Committee that Mr El-Masri’s personal belongings had been subjected to microbiological tests and that the earplugs had been tested for DNA. The results of the tests did not form a basis for further investigation. With regard to his clothes, the marks indicating the country of manufacturing had been removed. It had been possible to secure Mr El-Masri’s fingerprints on his clothes, as well as fingerprints from two other persons. The identity of these persons could, however, not be established. There was an exit stamp from FYROM, dated 23 January 2004 in Mr El-Masri’s passport, but it was not possible to identify the border point in question. After having returned to Germany, Mr El-Masri was examined by medical services in Munich. […] An isotope examination of his hair had been requested and carried out. Changes in the isotope signature of his hair had been established. Two experts considered it probable that these changes were due to the events told by Mr El-Masri. One expert concluded that the change in the isotope structure showed a change in living conditions which in time could coincide with the account given by Mr El-Masri, or that it at least did not contradict his account of the events.[…]

 

“Mr El-Masri was of the opinion that he landed in Kabul and that the prison was situated there. The Munich prosecutor’s office had carried out investigations on the basis of that hypothesis. With regard to the weather conditions in Kabul for the day when Mr El-Masri said that he arrived at the prison, Mr Hofmann told the Committee that it had been established that the temperature had been between 6.8°C and 14.3°C. Mr El-Masri had also mentioned that there was a possible earthquake in April 2004. The prosecutor’s office had received information that there had been earthquakes in Kabul in April 2004. The German liaison officer in Kabul remembered that there had been an earthquake in the morning one day at the beginning of May 2004. Mr Hofmann said that there was a person who was a possible witness of Mr El-Masri’s imprisonment in Kabul, but that it had not been possible to reach that person. At this stage of the investigation, Mr Hofmann had not found anything that contradicted the statements given by Mr El-Masri. […]”

 

July 7th, 2006 - Report of the Debate on the Interim Report of the Temporary Committee

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

July 6th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr Marty, President EC Committee on Legal Affairs

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Mr Marty presented the conclusions of his report, which was based inter alia on official information provided by national and international air traffic control authorities and information from sources inside the US intelligence services. According to Mr Marty, there had been numerous violations of human rights in the fight against terrorism. These violations had been made possible through active or passive cooperation on the part of governments, either deliberately or through negligence. A majority of the Council of Europe Member States' governments had been passive in relation to CIA activities connected with renditions on their territories. According to Mr Marty, it was indisputable that individuals had been seized on the basis of mere suspicion and taken to places where torture was commonly practiced. There had been no judicial scrutiny or supervision regarding the foundation of those suspicions. He considered that while some information was still missing, existing knowledge of events was enough to draw the conclusions that he had drawn in his report.

 

“With regard to the question of interception of bank transfer data from the SWIFT system by the US secret services, Mr Marty said that many European governments were aware of it and that it had taken place without any legal basis or judicial supervision. While banking transactions could give very important information about criminal activities, procedures for monitoring the transactions existed, and these procedures must be observed. […]”

 

June 12th, 2006 - Report on the Transport and Illegal Detention of Prisoners by the CIA

Interim draft report by the Temporary Committee of the European Parliament

 

June 7th, 2006 - Alleged Secret Detentions and Unlawful Inter-State Transfers

Report by Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe/Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

 

June 2nd, 2006 - Report on the Meeting of the Temporary Committee

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

May 3rd, 2006 - Document COREU CFSP/SEC/1126/06, Classified Restreint UE

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

April 30th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr. Oleskey

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

April 21st, 2006 - Report on the Legislators’ Dialogue 61st EP/US Congress Meeting

Report by the Delegation for Relations with the US of the European Parliament

 

“[…] The following discussion dealt with integration policies, terrorism and international Human Rights issues. For the US Delegation, it was important to realize that integration policies took place in a ‘smaller world’, where world-wide instant communication magnified reactions and ‘jumping to conclusions’. Also, there were ‘in-built bias’ affecting perceptions and assumptions: this was true, in particular, for issues like immigration, or renditions. […]

 

“With regard to terrorism, the key concept was that, although terrorists constituted a ‘stateless faction’, they availed themselves of a ‘concrete network’ which should be destroyed by means of a ‘war on terror’. Terrorists were not simple criminals, and while torture was unacceptable, mass murders had to be prevented. The European press had often misrepresented conditions in Guantanamo; also, the concept itself of ‘renditions’ was ‘amorphous’, and no concrete information was available on this subject.

 

“For the European side, the creation of the EU Human Rights Agency was a good symbol of the crucial value represented by Human Rights in the EU structure. The concept of ‘war on terrorism’ was at odds with our own values: the rule of law could not be partially suspended, as in a state of war, and normal judicial instruments (albeit sharpened and reinforced) should be used in what was, essentially, a ‘fight’ against criminal activities. Human Rights could not be considered as anti-American, and (as the McCain amendment had shown) Americans themselves were conscious of the importance of this problem; furthermore, extraordinary renditions were well documented and ‘subcontracting torture’ was not a solution; ultimately, the EU and the US were linked together (in particular in perceptions by the Islamic world) as ‘the West’, and should find common solutions to these problems. […]”

 

March 17th, 2006 - Exchange of views with Mr. El-Masri

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Mr Gnjidic told the Committee about the abduction of Mr El-Masri. Mr EL-Masri left Germany on 31 December 2003 to go on holiday in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). At the border of FYROM, Mr EL-Masri’s passport was confiscated and he was asked to leave the bus that he was on. He was taken by Macedonian policemen to Skopje where he was held at a hotel for 23 days. He was not given any opportunity to contact a lawyer, the German embassy or his family. When he tried to leave, three armed guards threatened to shoot him.

 

“He was questioned about various aspects of his life and about trips that he had made to Norway. He was told that if he confessed to being a member of Al-Qaeda he would be sent back to Germany, but refused to sign any statement that he was a member of that organisation. He objected to his confinement by going on a hunger strike. On 23 January 2004, seven or eight Macedonians arrived to the hotel. They filmed him, forcing him to say before the camera that he was being well treated. He was taken away to undergo what was called a medical examination. He was beaten, stripped and was subjected to great violence by seven or eight men who were dressed in black and wore ski masks, before he was taken on board a plane and left Skopje. He got a stamp in his passport. […]”

 

February 15th, 2006 - Subject: Secstate Legal Adviser on War on Terrorism

Confidential Report by the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium

 

“[…] Summary: Secstate Legal Adviser John Bellinger met with a comprehensive array of EU interlocutors in Brussels on February 7-8 to discuss U.S. views on the legal framework for the war on terrorism. He stressed that U.S. decisions on how to deal with an unprecedented global terrorist threat had been made after serious consideration of all legal and political options, and that European officials must publicly underline U.S.-EU solidarity in the fight against terror. On Guantanamo detainees and Al Qaeda, Bellinger argued that the U.S. was and is acting in the context of a new form of international armed conflict, and that therefore, while the Geneva Conventions do not fit this new situation well, the rules of war provide a more appropriate framework than domestic criminal law. He discussed European concerns about the treatment of detainees. Bellinger also argued that rendition is a vital tool against terror. Finally, he urged the EU not to support a Cuban resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission on Guantanamo. The EU response to the visit was for the most part extremely positive, with the Legal Adviser of the Austrian EU presidency underlining that ‘the fight against terror is our (shared) struggle.’ Europeans, however, remain concerned about protection issues. […]”

 

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