Da The Guardian del 27/04/2006
Originale su http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1762310,00.html

1,000 secret CIA flights revealed

· MEPs' report says member states knew of abductions
· Documents show 'strange routes' and stopovers

di Richard Norton-Taylor

The CIA has operated more than 1,000 secret flights over EU territory in the past five years, some to transfer terror suspects in a practice known as "extraordinary rendition", an investigation by the European parliament said yesterday.

The figure is significantly higher than previously thought. EU parliamentarians who conducted the investigation concluded that incidents when terror suspects were handed over to US agents did not appear to be isolated. They said the suspects were often transported around Europe on the same planes by agents whose names repeatedly came up in their investigation.

They accused the CIA of kidnapping terror suspects and said those responsible for monitoring air safety regulations revealed unusual flight paths to and from European airports. The report's author, Italian MEP Claudio Fava, suggested some EU governments knew about the flights.

He suggested flight plans and airport logs made it hard to believe that many of the stopovers were refuelling missions. "The CIA has, on several occasions, clearly been responsible for kidnapping and illegally detaining alleged terrorists on the territory of [EU] member states, as well as for extraordinary renditions," said Mr Fava, a member of the European parliament's socialist group.

His report, the first interim report by EU parliamentarians on rendition, obtained data from Eurocontrol, the European air safety agency, and gathered information during three months of hearings and more than 50 hours of testimony by individuals who said they were kidnapped and tortured by American agents, as well as EU officials and human rights groups.

"After 9/11, within the framework of the fight against terrorism, the violation of human and fundamental rights was not isolated or an excessive measure confined to a short period of time, but rather a widespread regular practice in which the majority of European countries were involved," said Mr Fava.

Data showed that CIA planes made numerous secret stopovers on European territory, violating an international air treaty that requires airlines to declare the route and stopovers for planes with a police mission, he said. "The routes for some of these flights seem to be quite suspect. ... They are rather strange routes for flights to take. It is hard to imagine ... those stopovers were simply for providing fuel."

Mr Fava referred to the alleged abduction of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar by CIA agents in a Milan street in 2003, to Khalid al-Masri, who was transferred from Macedonia to Afghanistan, and the transfer of a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, from New York to Syria, among other incidents.

Documents provided by Eurocontrol showed that Mr Masri was transported to Afghanistan in 2004 by a plane that originated in Algeria and flew via Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Skopje in Macedonia, and Baghdad before landing in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Mr Fava's committee did not report on secret prisons, but he said EU parliamentarians intended to visit Romania and Poland where, it is suspected, the CIA had secret interrogation camps.

The Bush administration has admitted to secret rendition flights but says it does not condone torture. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, says he has no evidence that the US used British airspace or airports to transfer detainees and that he believes Washington would have told the government if it had plans to do so.

Extraordinary renditions would breach European human rights legislation and British domestic law.

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