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Europe

Investigator: NATO Countries Knew About Secret CIA Flights

A special investigator for the Council of Europe testified before a German parliament committee that the NATO countries must have known about the secret CIA rendition flights used by the US in the War on Terror.

A Boeing 737 taking off from Palma de Mallorca in Spain

A suspected CIA plane takes off in Mallorca, Spain, in 2004

NATO countries, including Germany, were aware early on that the United States was conducting secret rendition flights of terror suspects for possible torture following the attacks of September 11, 2001, says Dick Marty, who has been heading up an investigation into the flights on behalf of the Council of Europe.

Marty was speaking on Thursday before a special committee of the German parliament, set up to investigate the involvement of the German federal intelligence service (BND) in America's War on Terror.

The Swiss MP said that it was "absolutely incredible" that European governments had no knowledge of the activities carried out by the CIA prior to 2005.

He also finds it hard to believe that Germany could have been isolated from these activities.

Two events

Swiss Council of Europe Investigator Dick Marty

Swiss MP Dick Marty finds it difficult to believe that NATO knew nothing of the flights prior to 2005

According to the German ARD public broadcaster's news website, there are two events that led Marty to this conclusion. The first was a meeting of the world's most important secret service agencies in Washington shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

It was during this meeting that the CIA informed their international counterparts that US President George W. Bush had given them free range in deciding how to deal with terrorists.

The second happened just a month later when the NATO countries agreed to support the US in the War on Terror on October 4, 2001.

A statement released by NATO at the time said that at the request of the United States the NATO allies agreed to "take eight measures, individually and collectively, to expand the options available in the campaign against terrorism."

Two of those measures were "to enhance intelligence sharing and co-operation ... relating to the threats posed by terrorism" and to "provide blanket overflight clearances for the United States and other allies' aircraft … for military flights related to operations against terrorism.

However, Marty was unable to provide any physical evidence, saying that he got his information only after promising his sources that their identities would remain a secret.

More answers

Khalid el-Masri

German Khalid el-Masri says CIA agents abducted him and transported him to Afghanistan

According to news agency AFP, the Free Democratic Party announced it is considering asking former Defense Minister Peter Struck, a member of the Social Democrats, to explain whether or not he took part in the NATO decision to abduct terror suspects.

That would include Khaled el-Masri, a German national, who was abducted by the CIA in Macedonia in 2004 and flown to Afghanistan for interrogation on terrorism charges.

Although there has never been any proof of German involvement, warrants issued in Germany for the arrest of the CIA agents involved in the capture of el-Masri were blocked by the German government.

Additionally, when the then interior minister, Otto Schilly, was informed by the US of el-Masri's abduction, he didn't inform the public prosecutor.

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