- Over 300 flights operated by US intelligence agency CIA
have landed at European airports, a UK daily writes, while the alleged
existence of CIA jails on EU territory is set to dominate a European trip
by US foreign secretary Condoleezza Rice next week.
- The Guardian reported on Thursday (1 December) on the
basis of flight logs that more than 300 stopovers were made in European
airports by planes used by the American intelligence agency.
- The logs seen by the paper reveal that most CIA planes
landed in Germany, which saw 96 visits, and Britain, which had 80 planes
- The report suggests that European airports have been
frequently facilitating the transport of suspected terrorists by the CIA
to the Guantanamo Bay camp, or possibly to alleged secret prisons somewhere
in eastern Europe.
- The Washington Post reported in November on the existence
of such secret prisons, with leading NGO Human Rights Watch subsequently
identifying EU member state Poland and candidate state Romania as likely
locations for the camps.
- But the flight records reportedly show only one CIA visit
to the Polish Szymany airbase, which had been earmarked as one such location.
- CIA planes, some of them known to be implicated in the
practice of "rendition" (the extra-judicial seizure of terror
suspects), have recently been reported to have landed at airports across
- Meanwhile, Washington has come under increasing pressure
to provide clarification over the matter, shortly before a visit by Ms
Rice to Europe next week.
- The US foreign secretary is also due to visit NATO in
Brussels on Thursday (8 December) and will stop over in Germany, Ukraine
and Romania, one of the countries identified as a possible location of
- State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the administration
would respond "to the best of our ability" to a letter sent to
Washington by UK foreign minister Jack Straw on behalf of the EU, expressing
concern about possible "violations of international law".
- The Washington Post highlights that the affair could
have a far-reaching negative impact for US diplomatic relations with even
its staunchest European allies, such as the Netherlands.
- Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot said before the Dutch
parliament last week that if the reports on the alleged existence of CIA
prisons in Europe were found to be true, this would have "consequences"
for Dutch participation in military operations in Afghanistan.
- © EUobserver.com 2005