Saturday, January 28, 2006

Swiss investigator says US is 'outsourcing torture'

By Boston Globe's Farah Stockman | January 25, 2006

WASHINGTON -- A Swiss investigator for the Council of Europe said he is collecting mounting evidence that the United States has flown more than 100 terrorism suspects through Europe in recent years to countries where they could be tortured.

Dick Marty, who is charged with investigating reports of CIA prisoner transfers and detentions in Europe, called it ''highly unlikely" that European intelligence services were not aware of the practice, which he referred to as ''outsourcing torture."
Marty released an interim assessment in Strasbourg, France, yesterday that said he needed more time to determine whether secret CIA prisons had ever existed in Europe, as the Washington Post reported in November. But he said there was reason to continue the probe. Marty said he needed time to analyze flight logs of private planes used by the CIA in Europe and satellite imagery of airbases in Romania and other locations that were allegedly used as secret prisons, which he just received on Monday.

He also cited the need to find out more about allegations published this month by Switzerland's SonntagsBlick newspaper, that detention centers had existed in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Ukraine, as well as Romania and Poland.
The newspaper said Swiss intelligence services had intercepted a fax from the Egyptian Ministry of European Affairs to the Egyptian Embassy in London in November listing those countries as past locations of secret detention centers. The Swiss government has since set up an investigation into how the information made it into the press.
Yesterday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed Marty's interim assessment as ''the same old reports wrapped up in some new rhetoric."

But others said the European probe underscores how the United States risks alienating crucial allies in the war on terror by using tactics that human rights groups have condemned for decades. ''It's embarrassing that the Council of Europe is investigating practices of the United States, of the CIA," said Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, who has asked the House International Relations Committee to set up a probe into the alleged secret prisoner transfers. ''The United States should be leading the effort to investigate violations of human rights, not being dragged by Europe to acknowledge the outsourcing of torture, which has been the US policy."