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The CIA in Europe - Kidnappings and Secret Detentions


Archive on EU and National Government & NGO Reports - Years 2001 - 2005



December 4th, 2005 - Report on the Legislators’ Dialogue 60th EP/US Congress Meeting

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


“[…] On Security and cooperation in fight against terrorism (including PNR, visas), the EP Delegation stressed the importance of cooperation with the US. The two main problems, from the EU point of view, were ensuring an adequate protection of individual rights, and respecting the division of powers between the Union and its Member States.


“Among dossiers under examination, data retention (where a draft directive was being prepared) and Passenger Name Records (where it was expected that the Court of Justice would annul the present agreement) retained a high importance. The dossier of the ‘secret CIA prisons’ was very delicate, and there was a strong possibility that the EP would set up a committee of enquiry. The detention conditions and legal status of the Guantanamo detainees were legally questionable, but also a ‘PR disaster’. Shared intelligence was the key to successful counterterrorism, but the sheer amount of information available was causing problems.


“The US Congress Delegation focused on issues of perception and definition of terrorism. In this area ‘words matter’, and expressions such as ‘islamic terrorism’ should be avoided. Fight against terrorism was a matter of balancing personal liberties and common security: the Patriot act should perhaps be reorganized. While clearly Guantanamo was a ‘PR disaster’, what were the alternatives? Detention on the spot might have been a better option. Non-uniformed fighters had to be considered, once captured, as ‘illegal combatants’. Religions were ‘hijacked’ by terrorists, and common sense should be used when evaluating the dangers of profiling and stereotyping. […]”


November 29th, 2005 - “Dear Secretary […]”

Letter by Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office


“[…] As the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, I am writing to you on behalf of the European Union following media reports suggesting violations of international law in the alleged US detention or transportation of terrorist suspects in or through EU member states. This matter was discussed by EU Foreign Ministers at the meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 21 November.


“The reports have attracted considerable parliamentary and public attention. The EU would therefore be grateful for clarification the US can give about these reports in the hope that this will allay parliamentary and public concerns.


“I am sharing a copy of this letter with my European colleagues. […]”


April 25th, 2004 - Exchange of views with Mr. Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan

Report by the Council of the European Union


“[…] In his introductory remarks, Mr Murray told the Committee about his experiences of the extraordinary rendition programme in Uzbekistan. He said that according to the agreement between the UK and the US intelligence services these services exchanged 100 percent of their intelligence information. During his time in Uzbekistan he had thus come across US intelligence, obtained through so called ‘detainee debriefings’, i.e. torture. He was sure that the US information was obtained through torture, since the US intelligence he received was consistent with the confessions that victims of torture had been forced to sign.


“When he approached the US embassy about the issue, he was told that the Uzbekistan intelligence service probably did get its information through torture, but that the US did not see that as a problem since the information was vital in the war on terror. He had made a number of protests to his superiors about the situation, but his protests had had no effect.


“In March 2003, he was summoned back to the UK for a meeting with officials of the UK Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Mr Murray said to the Members of the Committee that he at that meeting was told that the UK Secretary of State, Jack Straw, had personally considered the question and decided that the UK should continue to receive useful intelligence even if obtained under torture. Later that month, in a letter written by one of the participants at the meeting, addressed to one of the officials who had also attended, it was stated that according to Article 151 of the UN Convention against Torture it was not an offence under that Convention to receive or possess information obtained under torture, even though it was an offence to invoke that information as evidence in proceedings.


“According to Mr Murray, receiving or possessing such information would in any case constitute a breach of Article 4 in the Convention. Mr Murray stated that while he was against terror as much as anyone, he believed that ignoring the human rights of Muslims would lead to an increase in hatred against the West in Muslim countries. Apart from being illegal and immoral, he said that torture was also an ineffective way to obtain information, since the victim would ‘confess’ to anything, which would generate false information.


“To questions from Mr Fava (PSE, IT), Mr Murray said that he was not aware of the CIA sharing its information with any other European security service than the UK, and said that some European states, in particular Germany, which still had an airbase and troops in Uzbekistan, had their own links with Uzbekistan intelligence services. With regard to who had been tortured, he said that he personally knew about 200-300 cases of persons who had been tortured, but that the number of persons tortured could be estimated to be at least 7000. Less than 1 percent of those had links to terrorist activities. Most of them were simply part of the political opposition, and were not fundamentalists. People who practiced their religion and prayed five times a day could be arrested because of that. As for any investigation of his statements in the UK, he said that there had been none. Instead, he had been asked to resign as ambassador and a disciplinary action, in which he was later acquitted, had been instituted.


“The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons had discussed his case with several people, but his own approaches to that Committee had not been accepted. Asked by Mr Özdemir (Verts/ALE, DE) about the position of the UK Government on torture, he said that while the Government condemned the use of and the instigation of torture, it seemed happy to receive intelligence obtained through it. He added that the UK Parliament had never asked about issue. […]”


March 13th, 2002 - Memorandum for William J. Haynes II, General Counsel, Dept. of Defense

Memorandum by Jay S. Bybee, U.S. Assistant Attorney General (10,2 MB)


“[…] You have asked for our Office’s views on the laws applicable to the transfer of members of the Taliban militia, al Qaeda, or other terrorist organizations, who have come under the control of the United States armed forces, to other countries. We conclude that the President has plenary constitutional authority, as the Commander in Chief, to transfer such individuals who are captured and held outside the United States to the control of another country. Individuals who are detained within the United States, however, may be subject to amore complicated set of rules established by both treaty and statute.


“Part I of this memorandum discusses the President’s constitutional authority, supported by two centuries of historical practice, to detain and transfer enemy prisoners captured in wartime. It reviews the two relevant treaties that regulate transfer - the 1949 Geneva Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3316 (‘GPW’), and the Torture Convention and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Apr. 18, 1987, 23 I.L.M. 1027 (entered into force June 26, 1987) (the ‘Torture Convention’ or the ‘Convention’), - and it explains that these conventions do not apply to the factual situation posed by the transfer of al Qaeda or Taliban prisoners to third countries. As you have requested, we also survey in Part II the domestic legal rules governing extradition, and in Part III the domestic standards that govern removal under the immigration laws.


“We conclude that the President has full discretion to transfer al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners captured overseas and detained outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States to third countries. GPW does not restrict the President’s discretion because the President has determined that the al Qaeda or Taliban detainees are not legally entitled to prisoner of war (‘POWs’) status within the meaning of the Conventions. The Torture Convention poses no obstacle to transfer because the treaty does not apply extraterritorially. As removal applies only to the transfer of individuals already within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and as extradition is rarely if ever applied to individuals held abroad, those methods of transfer do not apply to the detainees held either in Afghanistan or at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. […]”


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