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Europe

European Parliament to Study CIA Prison Claims

The European Parliament set up a committee on Wednesday to analyze claims that the United States Central Intelligence Agency operated secret prisons on the continent.

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The parliamentary panel is due to start work next week

The European Parliament set up a temporary panel to analyze claims of secret CIA prisons in Europe.

"Do CIA detention centers exist in Europe? Has the CIA been using European airports to transport terrorist suspects to places where they could face torture? These are two questions that lie at the heart of a new temporary committee to be set up by the parliament," the legislature's Web site reported.

Made up of 46 members of parliament, the committee will also look into whether European governments were aware of these alleged activities, if citizens of the EU or of candidate states were involved, including as victims, in Europe or elsewhere.

The panel has no investigative powers -- its mandate is to collect and analyze information on the allegations. It will work alongside the European human rights body, the Council of Europe.

The committee will submit its first report within four months after it begins work, probably next week.

"No Guantanamo in Europe"

CIA Flug nach Rumänien

Human rights groups charge the CIA with transporting suspected terrorists to Poland and Romania

The head of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, Germany's Elmar Brok, said that the credibility of the EU is at stake over the CIA prisons affair.

"There must be no Guantanamo on European soil," Brok told Reuters, referring to the controversial US detention center in Cuba.

The co-head of the parliament's Green group, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, said the committee should not shy away from interviewing any potential witnesses, without discrimination, even, if it were necessary, "the Queen of England."

The committee will have no power to force anyone to appear before it, according to the leader of the Socialist group, Martin Schulz. But by requesting individuals' attendance it will "send signals at the international level which will compel those invited to publicly justify any refusal," he added.

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