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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 01:14 GMT
Rice 'to talk tough on CIA claim'
Condoleezza Rice
Rice has refused to confirm or deny reports about secret jails
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to go on the offensive over EU concerns that the US has operated secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

According to media reports in both the US and UK, Ms Rice will tell European allies to "back off" over the issue.

Last month the EU wrote to Ms Rice expressing misgivings over the alleged jails and reports CIA planes carrying detainees had stopped in EU countries.

Ms Rice said she would respond to the EU before a visit to Europe on Monday.

Change of tack

The Washington Post newspaper first reported on 2 November that the CIA had been using Soviet-era camps in eastern Europe to detain and interrogate terror suspects.

In response to that and further media reports of possible violations of international law Britain formally wrote to the US, on behalf the EU, to ask for "clarification".

We comply with US law... we do not move people around the world so that they can be tortured
Stephen Hadley
President Bush's adviser

"It's very clear they want European governments to stop pushing on this,'' a European diplomat, who has been speaking to the US officials drafting Ms Rice's response, told the New York Times. "They were stuck on the defensive for weeks, but suddenly the line has toughened up incredibly."

On Sunday, President Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley told US networks that Ms Rice would address the issue "in a comprehensive way".

"We comply with US law, we respect the sovereignty of the countries with which we deal, and we do not move people around the world so that they can be tortured," Mr Hadley told Fox News Sunday.

And in an interview with CNN, he said that providing information about certain operations "would help the enemy... it would put countries who are co-operating with us at risk".

The US has refused to confirm or deny the reports and according to the Washington Post, Ms Rice has no plans to acknowledge the prisons.

Solidarity call

According to the daily, Ms Rice will insist that intelligence co-operation between the US and Europe is necessary to prevent future terror attacks and call upon European governments to do more to emphasise this to their citizens.

"The key point will be 'We're all in this together and you need to look at yourselves as much as us,' " one official said to the Washington Post, on condition of anonymity. "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

US airbase at Ramstein, Germany. File photo
Germany is the latest EU country reported as a landing spot

A day after news of the alleged prisons emerged Human Rights Watch said it had evidence indicating that the CIA transported terror suspects captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

Poland and Romania have denied ever playing host to the alleged prisons.

A US rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union, announced on Friday that it was taking the CIA to court over what it said was the violation of both US and international law.

The highly secretive process is known as "extraordinary rendition" whereby intelligence agencies move and interrogate terrorism suspects outside the US, where they have no American legal protection.

Some individuals have claimed they were flown by the CIA to countries like Syria and Egypt, where they were tortured.

German claims

On Friday White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the US does not violate human rights.

"When it comes to human rights, there is no greater leader than the United States of America, and we show that by holding people accountable when they break the law or violate human rights," he said.

On Saturday, Germany emerged as the latest country suspected of being used as a landing spot for secret CIA flights.

The German government has a list of at least 437 flights suspected of being operated by the CIA in German airspace, according to a German magazine.

Der Spiegel said the aircraft had made landings in Berlin, Frankfurt and the US airbase at Ramstein.

Two planes alone accounted for 137 and 146 uses of airspace or landings in 2002 and 2003, the magazine reported.

US Human Rghts spokesman talks about the claims

Q&A: CIA jails allegations
04 Dec 05 |  Americas
CIA flights 'landed in Germany'
03 Dec 05 |  Americas
US civil rights group to sue CIA
03 Dec 05 |  Americas
EU to query US 'secret prisons'
22 Nov 05 |  Europe
CIA 'running secret terror jails'
02 Nov 05 |  Americas

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