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Come Clean on Secret CIA Prisons, EU Tells US

DW staff / AFP (jb)November 22, 2005

EU officials want the Americans to respond to reports of secret CIA detention centers on European soil. So far the Americans remain silent.

Secret CIA prisons in Europe?Image: AP

The European Union wants the United States to clarify reports about the way its CIA spy agency handles suspected Islamic extremists as part of anti-terrorism activities, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said Monday.

"We say in all friendship to the United States, 'What is this? You can't be satisfied with all these rumors and neither are we'," Moeller told Danish news agency Ritzau after a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels.

Washington has refused to confirm or deny press reports about the Central Intelligence Agency's use of European airports to transfer suspected Islamic extremists around the globe, and so-called "black site" covert prisons in eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Thailand and elsewhere.

"We say (to the Americans): A lot of countries have been named in relation to this, and we can guess at a lot of others in connection with these prisons," he said. "So we would like you to tell us something about it."

"We only have rumors"

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, did not mention any formal demand to the United States about the matter, the news agency said.

But Moeller said ministers wanted an explanation.

Guantanamo Kleider auf Bank
US stays silentImage: AP

"The general desire (of the meeting) was to clarify this situation that has been raised in all the newspapers while none of us knows anything about it," he said. "But there has not been any declaration because there is no basis for justifying it. There are no facts. We have only rumors."

Also Monday, a Danish lawmaker alleged that aircraft chartered by the CIA to transport suspects flew illegally over Greenland, which is ruled by Copenhagen.

Danish Transport Minister Flemming Hansen had confirmed in a written response to a question that two planes used by the CIA crossed into Greenland's airspace, deputy Frank Aaen.

"These flights, the dates of which the minister did not specify, were illegal under international aviation protocols, as they were not civil flights and should thus have had prior authorization," said Aaen.

Romania allows access

Meanwhile, Romanian officials said they are ready to allow investigators access to two military bases to prove they were not used by the CIA as secret prisons, Romanian President Traian Basescu told French newspaper Le Figaro Monday.

Terroranschlag in London Attentäter
The war on terrorists -- not always successfullImage: dpa - Report

During the interview, Basescu denied a report by the Washington Post confirming the existence of secret prisons used to hold suspected terrorists in eastern Europe and Thailand. Poland and Romania were identified as the locations by US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, but both countries have denied the allegations. Romania is a candidate for EU membership and Poland is already a member of the 25-nation bloc.

"There are no such prisons in Romania," the president said. "We are open to an investigation on the bases of Timisoara and Kogalniceanu which are suspected of housing such prisons."

The Council of Europe is investigating the charges.