Europe Rights Chief Urges Probe of CIA Detention Centers

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 9:50 am (UTC-5)
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The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner has urged Lithuania, Poland and Romania to investigate their governments' alleged roles in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's secret “rendition” program of detaining, transporting and interrogating terrorism suspects in foreign countries.

Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg says the CIA set up “black sites” in overseas locations, including some in Europe, as part of its secret counter-terrorism operations where detainees were allegedly tortured. He says Poland, Romania and Lithuania took extraordinary measures to keep the most damaging revelations out of the public domain.

Hammarberg urged disclosure on the part of those countries, despite possible diplomatic costs, with the aim of preventing governments in the future from resorting to the same abusive tactics. He said the interrogation techniques authorized by the U.S. government in many cases constituted torture and included waterboarding, or simulated drowning.

Poland has launched an investigation into the allegations but had no immediate reaction. There also was no immediate comment from officials in Romania or Lithuania.

In a 2007 report, Dick Marty, a Swiss lawmaker at the Council of Europe, accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to operate secret prisons to interrogate terrorism suspects or carry out rendition flights over their territories.

The Strasbourg, France-based Council of Europe brings together lawmakers from all democratic European countries to review various issues, including implementation of human rights.