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Was the German government aware of illegal flights via the US Air Base in Ramstein?Image: AP

CIA Affair

DW staff (sac)
September 20, 2006

A European Parliament delegation was in Berlin to find out to what extent the German government and secret services turned a blind eye to US practices to deport detainees to other continents via European territory.


The deportation of terror suspects by the CIA and the involvement of European countries in such deportation cases were at the center of investigations carried out by a special inquiry panel of the European Parliament in Berlin on Tuesday.

US President George W. Bush recently admitted the use of secret prisons outside US jurisdiction. The question that Europe has to clarify is to what extent governments and intelligence agencies helped the CIA detain and deport terror suspects.

A delegation from the European Parliament's inquiry panel looking into the issue spent Tuesday talking to German parliamentarians and NGOs to try to find out more about the activities of the German government and secret services regarding such deportations.

Germany's European parliamentarian and panel member Cem Özdemir said the body wanted to "build a coalition" between national and European parliamentarians.

"We believe that the members of parliaments have to work closely together in order to force our governments to cooperate, because otherwise we cannot achieve our goals," Özdemir said.

Lots of issues to be discussed

Back from Guantanamo
Murat Kurnaz was held in Guantanamo for over four yearsImage: AP

"Of course, we have some questions here in Germany," Özdemir said. "Just think of the el Masri case." German national Khaled el Masri was arrested in Macedonia at the end of 2003 and said he was handed over to the CIA, who flew him to Afghanistan and wrongly held him until his release in late May 2004.

Özdemir also named the case of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born in Germany who was recently allowed to return to Germany after more than four years of detention in Guantanamo Bay.

"All those things we have to discuss," Özdemir said.

Human rights of detainees are a top priority

Ferdinand Muggenthaler from the German branch of Amnesty International accused the government of double standards. On the one hand, he said, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet members have openly criticized the existence of the secret prisons.

On the other hand, there are strong indications that the government has turned a blind eye when the intelligence agencies helped the CIA deport terror suspects to such camps.

German intelligence officers are said also to have themselves interrogated suspects in such camps.

"The most important point for the future is that the government makes it clear that the secret service also has to protect the human rights of detainees," Muggenthaler said. "I think that's the better way in the long run to fight terrorism and to ensure security."

Getting to the bottom of the matter will take time

oezdemir journal interview 10.12.2004
Cem Özdemir wants European and national bodies to work closely togetherImage: dw-tv

Özdemir said that just one day of investigations in Germany wasn't enough to get to the heart of the matter. He said more meetings will follow.

"This is not the last time that we will talk to our German colleagues," Özdemir said. "Don't forget that we work closely together and it's clear that we also need the help and support of the media, we need the help and support of NGOs. Otherwise, we cannot achieve our work."

A final report by the panel is expected by the end of this year.

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