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Did Berlin allow German suspects to remain behind bars?Image: dpa

Germany in the Hot-Seat at EU's CIA Probe

DW staff (jp)
September 15, 2006

Serious claims of German complicity have been raised within the special European Parliament committee investigating the CIA's secret camps in Europe.


Lawyers accused Germany's former red-green coalition government of failing to intervene on behalf of prisoners from Germany who were being transported by the CIA, if not actively supporting their detention.

The committee is looking into whether the CIA ran camps on EU territory to hold terrorist suspects and to what extent national governments were complicit.

So far, governments have consistently denied involvement in the CIA's rendition practices.

Accusations against red-green Berlin

Back from Guantanamo
Murat Kurnaz was held at Guantanamo Bay since January 2002Image: AP

This week saw the committee examine 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, as well as the less-known case of Mohammed Zammar, a German citizen and associate of the Hamburg terror cell that led the Sept. 11 attacks on the US, who was captured by the CIA in Morocco in 2001.

Mohammed Haydar Zammar has been held in the Far-Filastin prison in Damascus since 2002, but his lawyer Gül Pinar says she has not seen him for over a year.

She told the committee in Brussels that German authorities had been in touch with the Syrian secret services and that while Berlin had spelled out it was not keen to see Zammar released, it was interested in questioning him in the Syrian jail. According to the lawyer, Berlin subsequently revoked six legal proceedings against Syrians in Germany in return.

"Poltiical, moral, and legal failure"

Similarly, Kuranz's lawyer Bernhard Docke maintained former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government could have intervened to secure his client's release as early as 2002, but it was only when Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed his case with President Bush this year that he was able to return home.

"In 2002, the German reaction was: We don't want him!" maintained Docke, who called on the German government's own investigating committee to look into the matter.

"If this is what happened, I would consider it a serious political, moral and legal failure on the part of the government," he said.

Time to come clean

George W. Bush
Bush admitted the camps existed for the first time last weekImage: AP

SPD Member of the European Parliament Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler appealed to Berlin to come clean.

"It's time to lay your cards on the table," he said.

Last week, US President Bush admitted clandestine jails existed, but did not say where.

"The location of these camps must be made public," said Kreissl-Dörfler. "We need to know if there has been any complicity in illegal acts by governments of European Union countries or states seeking EU membership," he told Reuters.

CDU MEP Elmar Brok meanwhile called on the European Commission to formally ask Washington where in Europe the secret jails are located.

A delegation of MEPs from the committee are set to visit Berlin and other European capitals next week to step up investigations.

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