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European Investigator Details Web of Secret CIA Prisons and Transfers

The report, presented by investigator Dick Marty, listed countries that helped move 17 detainees to detention centers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and to alleged secret facilities in Poland, Romania, Egypt and Jordan.

Several countries let the CIA take their residents, allowed “stopovers” or served as a “staging point” for flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees, or failed to stop questionable activities on their territory.

Marty called the CIA’s network a “global spider’s web that had been spun out incrementally over several years using tactics and techniques that had to be developed in response to new threats of war.”

He said the U.S. system fell short of torture but amounted to a form of “legal and judicial apartheid” that could exacerbate Muslim anger and spawn new terrorists.

Marty presented his findings to the 46-member Council of Europe, the European human rights watchdog, which will likely be used to pressure countries implicated to investigate their participation.

Secret flights from or through Europe to countries where suspects could face torture violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council of Europe lacks the power to punish countries that violated the convention except to terminate their membership.

A similar investigation by the European Parliament found that there had been more than 1,000 clandestine CIA flights that stopped on European territory since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in America. The Washington Post article that broke the story in November 2005 said the secret detention system was planned after Sept. 11 to ward off a second attack.

Marty’s report included no direct evidence from European governments, but he said “a number of coherent and converging elements indicate that such secret detention centers did exist in Europe.”

The report relied on flight logs provided by the European Union’s air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, 20 national aviation authorities, witness statements from people who claimed to have been abducted by U.S. intelligence agents and judicial inquiries in several countries.

U.S. law prohibits holding prisoners in isolation in secret prisons within the United States, but transferring them to other countries — a process called rendition — holds them outside the U.S. system.

The 14 countries implicated are: Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Bosnia, Macedonia, Turkey, Spain, Cyprus, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Poland.

Britain said it had granted two of four U.S. rendition requests. Sweden and Bosnia have already admitted some involvement but others, such as Poland and Romania have rebutted the accusations.

Romanian Sen. Norica Nicolai said, “We cannot play like that with rumors that can undermine a country’s credibility.”

Poland’s Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said, “This is slander and it’s not based on any facts.”

Human rights organizations claim the secret transfers and detention centers violate international human rights law. Washington denies “outsourcing torture” to third countries and insists it acted with the full knowledge of the governments concerned.

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