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Investigator Calls Secret CIA Prisons Unlikely

Official doubts Europe has covert bases housing suspected terrorists but says questions remain.

November 26, 2005|From Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania — The head of a European investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe said Friday that it was unlikely there were large clandestine detention centers in the region.

Dick Marty, the Swiss senator heading the investigation on behalf of the Council of Europe, said he did not believe a prison like the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was possible in the region.

"But it is possible that there were detainees that stayed 10, 15 or 30 days," Marty told reporters, without referring to any country. "We do not have the full picture." He was in Romania for a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the council, Europe's main human rights watchdog.

The council's secretary-general, Terry Davis, said he had written to member nations asking whether they had laws against secret prisons and transportation of prisoners. The countries have until Feb. 21 to respond.

The council began investigations after published reports said CIA planes transported suspected terrorists through European countries. The reports raised the possibility that the CIA had set up secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe.

Human Rights Watch said flights stopped at the Romanian air base of Mihail Kogalniceanu and Poland's Szczytno-Szymany airport, basing its information on flight logs of suspected CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004.

Romanian leaders and the Pentagon have denied that the Mihail Kogalniceanu base was the site of a covert detention center, and the Romanians insist the U.S. never used it as a transit point for Al Qaeda captives. Poland's prime minister said the reports were worth investigating.

Marty has asked the Brussels-based Eurocontrol air safety organization to provide details of 31 aircraft.

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