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Pattern of CIA Flights Is Cited

EU inquiry finds some terrorism suspects were transferred to nations where they risked abuse.

April 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

BRUSSELS — The CIA has conducted more than 1,000 clandestine flights in Europe since 2001, and some of them took terrorism suspects to countries where they could face torture, European Union lawmakers said Wednesday.

Legislators selected to look into allegations of questionable CIA activities in Europe said flight data showed a pattern of hidden operations by American agents, and they accused some European governments of knowing but remaining silent.

"The committee deplores the fact that, as established during the committee's investigation, the CIA has used aircraft registered under fictitious company names or with private companies to secretly transfer terror suspects to other countries including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Afghanistan," according to a copy of the report.

The CIA declined to comment, as did European Union officials, who said previously that there was no proof of such hand-overs, known as "extraordinary renditions."

The lawmakers based their initial report on data provided by Eurocontrol, the EU's air safety agency, and more than 50 hours of testimony by EU officials, rights groups and individuals who said they were kidnapped and tortured by U.S. agents.

Giovanni Claudio Fava, an Italian member of Parliament and the report's author, said it was unclear how many people were transferred. He also said there was no proof of complicity by European officials, but called it unlikely that some governments, such as in Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sweden, knew nothing about the operations.

He accused the CIA of breaching the Chicago Convention, an international treaty governing air traffic. It requires aircraft used in military, customs and police operations to seek special authorization to land in signatory states.

U.S. officials previously said that as of late December, about 100 to 150 people had been seized in "rendition" operations in which terrorism suspects were detained in one country and flown to their home country or another where they were wanted for questioning or suspected of crimes.

Fava said the bulk of the clandestine CIA flights passed through Germany and Spain, where the United States has several air bases.

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