Investigator: European States Knew of Secret CIA Prisons

A Swiss human-rights investigator says 14 European countries knew of or cooperated with the CIA on secret transfers and imprisonment of terrorist suspects for the past five years.

A lengthy report published Wednesday by the Council of Europe charges that Poland and Romania may have allowed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to operate secret prisons on their territory. Both countries denied the accusation, which has been published in the past.

Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty acknowledges he has no "formal evidence" to prove his contention that European nations colluded with or tolerated activities that he said are "clearly contrary" to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Marty describes a "global spider's web" -- set up, he says, to target, apprehend and detain terrorist suspects.

The United States has not yet commented on the report, which was released before dawn in Washington, but Bush administration officials have consistently defended the treatment of terror suspects.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair dismissed the report on Wednesday. He said it was "nothing new." He did say the U.S. had made four rendition requests of Britain in 1998, but that he had kept Parliament fully informed on their details.

In Poland, Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz dismissed the report as libelous.

The 67-page report to the Council of Europe primarily uses data about aircraft movements over Europe to support Marty's charges. The investigator himself writes that "proof, in the classical meaning of the term, is not as yet available."

He contends that Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Britain, Italy, Macedonia, Germany and Turkey could be charged with violating individuals' rights in the course of the secret prisoner transfers known as "rendition." Marty says Poland, Romania, Spain, Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal and Greece also could be held responsible for illegal activities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters