A European human-rights investigator said Tuesday (January 24) that there was evidence that the United States “outsourced” torture to other countries and that European governments likely knew about the practice.
According to a Reuters report, Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who is heading the investigation by the Council of Europe’s human rights watchdog group, said, however, that there was no irrefutable evidence that the CIA operated secret detention centers in Europe. The Washington Post reported in November that the CIA had created a series of secret jails in unnamed European nations in which terror suspects were kept without access to lawyers and tortured using methods such as waterboarding (in which a prisoner is made to believe he is being drowned) that are illegal under U.S. law (see “Report Of ‘Covert’ CIA Jail Sparks Human-Rights Investigation” ).
The report — which complains of a lack of cooperation from European governments — offers no proof of Human Rights Watch’s allegations of secret jails in Romania or Poland, according to The Associated Press. Marty’s report was based on national investigations and recent press reports.
“There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of “relocation” or “outsourcing” of torture,” Marty said in his initial report on the allegations for the 46-nation council, according to the AP. “Acts of torture or severe violation of detainees’ dignity through the administration of inhuman or degrading treatment are carried outside national territory and beyond the authority of national intelligence services.”
The findings keep pressure on the CIA and European governments over allegations that the intelligence agency flew prisoners through airports in Europe to jails in countries where they may have been tortured, according to Reuters. The alleged use of European airports and airspace to transport detainees has drawn widespread and vehement protest from European citizens and some politicians.
Marty’s report found proof that “individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and transported to different destinations in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture.”
The report estimated that more than 100 unnamed people had been involved in “renditions” — the practice of sending captured terror suspects to other countries for interrogation. “It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware,” Marty said.
Among the cases Marty cited, according to the AP, are those of an Egyptian cleric who was allegedly kidnapped from Milan, Italy in 2003 by CIA agents, a German captured in Macedonia and taken to Afghanistan in a case of apparent mistaken identity and six Bosnians abducted by U.S. agents and taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.