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14 nations accused of allowing CIA flights

February 15, 2007|Tom Hundley | Chicago Tribune

WARSAW — The European Parliament on Wednesday adopted a contentious report accusing 14 European nations of complicity in CIA flights that shuttled suspected terrorists to secret prisons.

Parliament members who were among the 382 supporting the measure said the report exposed how European governments had ignored human rights violations committed through the more than 1,200 clandestine flights. Many of the 256 who voted against the measure, however, said the report was short on hard evidence and seemed to display an anti-American bias.

Seventy-four members abstained during the vote in Strasbourg, France.

The report criticizes Britain, Germany, Ireland and Portugal for allowing the so-called extraordinary rendition flights to use their airspace and airport facilities. The report also singles out Poland and one of the European Union's newest members, Romania, for apparently allowing the CIA to operate secret detention facilities in their territory. The report concedes, however, that there has been no definitive proof of such facilities.

"This is a report that doesn't allow anyone to look the other way. We must be vigilant that what has been happening in the past five years may never happen again," said Italian Socialist parliament member Giovanni Fava, the author of the report.

President Bush acknowledged the existence of the rendition program in September but rejected claims that it was illegal or that detainees were taken to places where they were tortured.

In a related development, Switzerland, which is not an EU member, approved an investigation of an alleged CIA flight that reportedly carried an Egyptian Muslim cleric kidnapped in Italy across Swiss airspace. The Swiss Cabinet said that "the use of Swiss airspace for an abduction cannot be tolerated."

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