European secret services colluded in CIA terror transfers

STRASBOURG, June 27, 2006 (AFP) – European secret services colluded in the detention and secret transfer of terrorist suspects in or across the continent, the author of a key report on the CIA rendition flights said Tuesday.

Dick Marty, a Swiss parliamentarian who compiled the report for the Council of Europe rights watchdog, said there was no doubt of collaboration.

"It has been proved that agents from national intelligence services colluded in the handing over and the transportation of persons suspected of terrorism," he told members of the pan-European body’s parliamentary assembly.

Questioned at a news conference afterward, Marty singled out Bosnia, whose government admitted during the inquiry that it had delivered six suspects of Algerian origin into US hands on January 18, 2002.

He also pointed to Italian complicity in the February 17, 2003 abduction of the former imam of a mosque in Milan, Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, who was flown to Egypt where he alleged he was tortured.

That case is now the subject of a legal inquiry, with Italian prosecutors hoping to put 22 alleged CIA operatives on trial in their absence before the end of the year.

Marty said that if secret services participated in a CIA detention on their soil, US authorities were justified in claiming that they had never violated national sovereignty.

Rights groups said European nations which helped the CIA renditions should be "ashamed," and urged them to follow a 12-point list of recommendations to halt and prevent such practices.

Marty’s report — issued on June 7 and presented Tuesday to the Council of Europe — said 14 European states colluded in or tolerated the secret transfer of terrorist suspects by the United States.

It named Bosnia-Hercegovina, Britain, Italy, Macedonia, Germany, Sweden and Turkey as "responsible, at varying degrees … for violations of the rights of specific persons."