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Secret Prisons: Timeline of the European Inquiry

David Roknich | 06.04.2008 22:47 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Terror War | World

On Friday, Swiss senator Dick Marty of the Council of Europe once again prodded European governments to come clean about their involvement in candestine operations by the US. As recently as February 22nd, Romania and Poland continued to deny their role in illegal rendition programs, but the EU has refused to accept their blanket denials. On February 24, AP came forth with additional evidence from sources in Romania..

The Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base is reported as a locus of clandestine activities controlled by the US.
According to the Associated Press, their source claims:

U.S. pilots routinely filed bogus flight plans – or none at all – and headed to undeclared destinations.

C-130 Hercules cargo planes and other U.S. military aircraft arriving from Iraq regularly parked in a restricted area just off the runway, where they feigned technical trouble and sat under guard for days at a time – awaiting repairs that never occurred.

Three buildings on the military portion of the air base were strictly off-limits to Romanians but were frequented and controlled by the Americans.

“It was all set up and simulated to look like normal activity. But believe me, it was very unusual,” said the official, who said he needed anonymity to protect himself.

The timeline of the official inquiry can be traced back through the links below:

Timeline of the investigation into illegal transfers and secret detentions in Europe

4 April 2008: Dick Marty accuses European governments of hypocrisy in continuing to deny their involvement in secret detentions or illegal renditions.
24 February 2008: Associated Press publishes additional evidence that corroborates Dick Marty's second report.
22 February 2008: The European Commission accuses Poland and Romania of dodging its requests to clarify their involvement. Both countries deny accusations of wrongdoing.
16 January 2008: In a reply, the Committee of Ministers – representing the 47 Council of Europe governments – says that it will “carefully consider” the Secretary General’s proposals to control the activities of foreign intelligence services in Europe.

27 June 2007: The plenary Assembly – bringing together over 300 legislators from 47 European countries – backs Mr Marty’s report and urges better oversight of foreign intelligence services operating in Europe. The use of “state secrecy” laws to protect wrongful acts by secret services should be limited.

8 June 2007: Presenting a second report following several months of additional inquiry, Swiss Senator Dick Marty reveals evidence that US “high-value detainees”, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were held in secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. Based on extensive, cross-referenced testimony from serving and former intelligence agents, he also alleges a series of partly secret decisions among NATO allies in 2001 which enabled the CIA to carry out illegal activities in Europe.

14 February 2007: In a report, the European Parliament comes to similar conclusions to Mr Marty, saying EU countries “turned a blind eye” to extraordinary renditions across their territory and airspace.

6 September 2006: PACE President René van der Linden reacts to US President George Bush’s admission of the existence of secret CIA prisons by declaring that kidnapping people and torturing them in secret “is what criminals do, not democratic governments”. Such activities will not make citizens safer in the long run, he says. The admission is a vindication of Senator Marty’s work, he adds.

30 June 2006: Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis makes concrete proposals to European governments for laws to control the activities of foreign intelligence services in Europe, reviewing state immunity, and making better use of existing controls on over-flights, including requiring landing and search of civil flights engaged in state functions.

27 June 2006: The plenary Assembly debates Mr Marty's first report and calls for the dismantling of the system of secret prisons, oversight of foreign intelligence services operating in Europe and a common strategy for fighting terrorism which does not undermine human rights.

7 June 2006: Presenting his first report, Dick Marty says he has exposed a global "spider's web" of illegal US detentions and transfers, and alleges collusion in this system by 14 Council of Europe member states, 7 of whom may have violated the rights of named individuals.

17 March 2006: In an opinion, legal experts from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission say that, under the European Convention on Human Rights and other international laws, member states should refuse to allow transit of prisoners where there is a risk of torture. If this is suspected, they should search civil planes or refuse overflight to state planes.

1 March 2006: Analysing governments' replies to a separate inquiry using powers under the European Convention on Human Rights, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis says Europe appears to be "a happy hunting-ground for foreign security services" and calls for better safeguards against abuse.

7 November 2005: Following media reports, the Parliamentary Assembly appoints Senator Dick Marty, a Swiss former prosecutor, to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into "alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states". PACE President René van der Linden declares: “This issue goes to the very heart of the Council of Europe’s human rights mandate.”
Compiled from sources made available by the Council of Europe.

David Roknich


David Roknich
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