A group of EU lawmakers will travel to Washington on Monday to
try and shed light on allegations of secret CIA prisons and flights
for terror suspects in Europe, the EU Parliament said.
The 13-member delegation will meet US Assistant Secretary of
State for European Affairs Daniel Fried, former CIA director James
Woolsey, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Pete Hoekstra
and congressmen Mac Thornberry, Robert Wexler and Ed Markey during
the four-day visit, according to a list released by the European
They will also meet John Bellinger, legal adviser to US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and lawyers, journalists and
representatives of non-governmental organizations.
CIA Director Porter Goss resigned Friday, nudged out after a
turmoil-filled 19 months at the spy agency as it struggled to forge
a new identity in an era of intelligence blunders and government
Allegations that CIA agents shipped prisoners through European
airports to secret detention centers, including compounds in
eastern Europe, were first reported last November by The
Clandestine prisons and secret flights via or from Europe to
countries where suspects could face torture would breach the
continent's human rights conventions.
A European Parliament committee launched an inquiry into the
reports, getting firsthand testimony from people who say they were
kidnapped by US intelligence agents and from human rights activists
and EU anti-terror officials to get a better picture of the
reported US "extraordinary rendition" flights.
"EU member states seem to have placed a lot of trust in the US
administration in the context of this issue and one of the purposes
of the delegation is to determine if this trust was misplaced,"
British deputy Jean Lambert said.
The committee traveled to Macedonia last month to look into
allegations by a Kuwaiti-born German citizen who said he was
detained by foreign agents in Macedonia while on holiday in 2003,
held and interrogated in a hotel in Skopje and flown to
Afghanistan, where he said he was tortured before being flown back
to Europe and released in Albania five months later.
Last month, the lawmakers said data from the EU's air traffic
agency show there have been more than 1,000 clandestine CIA flights
stopping on European territory since the September 11 attacks in
the United States. But they said it was not clear if or how many
detainees were on board.
In Brussels last week, Bellinger did not deny there have been
CIA flights over Europe or ones with stopovers, but he dismissed
implications that they all carried detainees. He said the flights
may have carried intelligence experts, counter-terrorism officials
or forensic evidence.
He urged European governments to break their silence and
challenge allegations of widespread illegal CIA activities in
Europe, which he said were hurting trans-Atlantic intelligence
No senior EU official or government leader has confirmed any
questionable or illegal CIA activities on European territory, and
very few have even spoken on the issue.
The committee has no legal power to subpoena people, and relies
on voluntary testimonies.
(Chinadaily.com via agencies May 8, 2006)