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Information Documents

SG/Inf (2006) 5 28 February 2006

Report by the Secretary General on the use of his powers under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in the light of reports suggesting that individuals, notably persons suspected of involvement in acts of terrorism, may have been arrested and detained, or transported while deprived of their liberty, by or at the instigation of foreign agencies, with the active or passive co-operation of States Parties to the Convention or by States Parties themselves at their own initiative, without such deprivation of liberty having been acknowledged

This report may also be referred to as (short title):

Secretary General's report under Article 52 ECHR on the question of secret detention and transport of detainees suspected of terrorist acts, notably by or at the instigation of foreign agencies.

Appendix IV - Extracts from the Information Memorandum II of the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Mr Dick Marty, rapporteur), and additional information regarding "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"

Extracts from the Information Memorandum II of the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Mr Dick Marty (rapporteur)30 (see paragraphs 90-92 above):

"A. Introduction


3. I am particularly struck by the fact that it is in the United States that the discussions first really took off. Following an article in The Washington Post and a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) published in early November, the international media have reported allegations that the CIA is or was running a system of secret prisons, including prisons in certain “central and east European democracies”. Numerous aircraft chartered by the CIA allegedly flew over, to and from European territory (benefiting, therefore, from airport facilities in Council of Europe member states) in order to transport suspects, completely illegally, to these secret centres.

4. Whereas The Washington Post did not mention any countries by name (further to an agreement entered into with the United States Government, which, to my mind, suggests that the reports are true), HRW expressly mentioned Poland and Romania . The press reports also quote denials by officials from Poland31 and Romania , but also Latvia , the Czech Republic , Georgia , Armenia and Bulgaria .

5. Since then, recent further information has extended the list of countries allegedly concerned by the existence of secret detention centres. According to a fax from the Egyptian Ministry of European Affairs to the Egyptian Embassy in London , intercepted by the Swiss intelligence services, such centres existed in Romania , Bulgaria , Macedonia, Kosovo and Ukraine .

6. On 5 December 2005 ABC reported, in turn, the existence of secret prisons in Poland and Romania that had apparently been closed following The Washington Post’s revelations. According to ABC, eleven suspects detained in these centres were then transferred to CIA facilities in North Africa . They were allegedly submitted to the harshest interrogation techniques (so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”). I would point out that the ABC article confirming the use of secret detention camps in Poland and Romania by the CIA was available on the Internet for only a very short time before being withdrawn. This strikes me as a telling indication of the pressure put on the media in this affair (in this particular case, the pressure was apparently brought to bear direct by the CIA).”


C. Criminal investigations and other reactions

a. Council of Europe member countries

i. Overview

25. In two countries (Italy and Germany ) judicial investigations have begun into “abduction” of persons subsequently transported to Guantànamo , Afghanistan and other detention centres by means of aircraft belonging to entities with hidden direct or indirect links to the CIA. The Italian prosecution service has even issued arrest warrants against CIA agents after the violent abduction of a Muslim, Abu Omar, in a Milan street in February 2003. The German judicial authorities are taking part in the investigation and have themselves begun investigating the case of a German citizen of Lebanese origin, Khaled al Masri. After being arrested by mistake in Macedonia he was reportedly taken to Kabul for interrogation.


26. The Polish Government ordered an enquiry into the alleged existence in Poland of secret CIA detention centres. The findings were to have been made known in December, but so far none have been published (although a parliamentary committee had been informed of these findings). On 21 December 2005 , I wrote to the head of the Polish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Iwinski, asking him to let me have the findings as soon as possible.


32. With regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, their American lawyer32 has sent me a detailed account of the case of six Bosnians abducted by American agents on Bosnian soil and taken to Guantànamo Bay, despite a Bosnia and Herzegovina Federal Supreme Court judgment ordering their release after police investigation had failed to uncover the slightest evidence against them. I shall be following developments in the case as part of my further investigations.


ii. The more detailed cases of Italy and Switzerland

- Italy

41. At midday on 17 June 2003 an Egyptian citizen, Hassam Osama Mustafa Nasr, known as Abu Omar, was abducted in the middle of Milan . Thanks to an outstanding and tenacious investigation by the Milan judiciary and the DIGOS police services, Abu Omar’s is undoubtedly the best known and best documented case of “extraordinary rendition”.

42. Via the military airbases at Aviano ( Italy ) and Ramstein ( Germany ) Abu Omar was flown to Egypt , where he was tortured before being released and re-arrested. To my knowledge no proceedings were brought against Omar in Egypt .

43. The Italian judicial investigation established, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the operation was carried out by the CIA (which has not issued any denials). The Italian investigators likewise established that the presumed leader of the abduction operation – who had worked as the American consul in Milan – was in Egypt for two weeks immediately after Omar was handed over to the Egyptian authorities. It may safely be inferred that he took part, in one way or another, in Omar’s interrogation.

44. The proceedings instituted in Milan are concerned with 25 American agents, against 22 of whom the Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants.

45. Abu Omar was a political refugee. Suspected of Islamic militancy, he had been under surveillance by the Milan police and judicial authorities. As a result of the surveillance operation, the Italian police were probably on the point of uncovering an activist network operating in northern Italy . Abu Omar’s abduction, as the Milan judicial authorities expressly point out, sabotaged the Italian surveillance operation and thereby dealt a blow to antiterrorist action.

46. Is it conceivable or possible that an operation of that kind, with deployment of resources on that scale in a friendly country that was an ally (being a member of the coalition in Iraq), was carried out without the national authorities – or at least Italian opposite numbers – being informed? The Italian Government has denied having been informed. The presence on Italian territory of at least 25 foreign agents who abducted someone who had been granted political asylum and was already under police surveillance might have been expected, if not to create a diplomatic incident, then at least to trigger a sharp response from the national authorities. As far as I know, there was no such response. A further interesting point is that the Italian justice minister has so far not forwarded to the American authorities the Milan judicial authorities’ requests for assistance and extradition.

47. Abu Omar’s abduction is a perfect illustration of “extraordinary rendition”. It is a clear indication that the method exists, together with complex logistic support in various parts of Europe and considerable deployment of personnel. It also plants doubts and raises the question of involvement of national authorities at one or other level.



* * *

Additional information which has been widely reported:

 “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

According to information publicly available regarding the case of Mr Khaled el-Masri (see paragraph 25 in the extracts of the Marty Information Memorandum above), the reason for his arrest at a border checkpoint on 31 December 2003 would have been due to his name being on an Interpol terror watch list, which in fact concerned another person. It is reported that senior officials of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the United States have stated that after his arrest Mr Khaled el-Masri was held in a hotel in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ” for several weeks, where he was questioned by the CIA. The authorities of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ” have publicly denied that Mr Khaled el-Masri had been held illegally. Mr Khaled el-Masri has alleged that by January 2004 he was transported to Afghanistan where he says he was held and beaten during the next five months.

* * *

30 22 January 2006, AS/Jur (2006) 03 rev.

31 “ A denial that was firmly reiterated by President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 7 December 2005 .”

32 “ Stephen H. Oleskey, of the law company WilmerHale.”

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