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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 January 2006, 17:44 GMT
Europe 'complicit over CIA jails'
Swiss senator Dick Marty
Dick Marty said Europe had turned a blind eye to the CIA's activities
A Swiss senator carrying out an inquiry into claims the CIA has run illegal secret detention centres in Europe has said he has no doubt they exist.

Dick Marty accused the US of violating human rights and attacked European nations for their "shocking" passivity in the face of such violations.

He is due to give a preliminary report to the Council of Europe on 23 January.

The US has refused to confirm or deny the allegations over secret prisons. It has denied using or condoning torture.

Mr Marty was asked to lead the inquiry by the Council of Europe, the continent's human rights watchdog, after the claims surfaced late last year.

What was shocking was the passivity with which we all, in Europe, have welcomed these things
Dick Marty

Speaking to journalists in Switzerland, he said he was personally convinced the US had undertaken illegal activities in Europe in transporting and detaining prisoners.

However, he acknowledged he had yet to produce concrete proof and said he expected his inquiry to last another 12 months.

"The question is: was the CIA really working in Europe?" he said. "I believe we can say today, without a doubt, yes."

Washington's policy "respects neither human rights nor the Geneva Conventions", he said.

He cited as evidence the case of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, who was allegedly kidnapped by CIA agents from Milan in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation.

'Dirty work'

Mr Marty also criticised European governments for failing to act when it seemed clear they knew about the US policy.

"It's not possible to transport people from one place to another in such a manner without the secret services knowing about it," he said.

Founded in 1949 and based in Strasbourg, France
Forty-six members, 21 of them from Central and Eastern Europe
Set up to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law
Acts as human rights watchdog for Europe
Oversees the European Court of Human Rights
Comprises a decision-making committee of ministers and 630-member parliamentary assembly

"What was shocking was the passivity with which we all, in Europe, have welcomed these things.

"Europeans should be less hypocritical and not turn a blind eye. There are those who do the dirty work abroad but there are also those who know when they should close their eyes when that dirty work is being done."

Mr Marty said it was unfair to single out for criticism Romania and Poland, both named in media reports as possible sites for the centres. Both have denied involvement.

Governments across Europe had been "willingly silent", he said, and it was now time for Europeans to decide whether they would continue to tolerate the illegal actions of the CIA.

Egyptian document leaked

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Bern says Mr Marty's comments come amid growing controversy within Switzerland over the leak of classified information from the Swiss intelligence service.

The document appears to confirm the existence of secret CIA interrogation centres in several Eastern European countries, she says.

It contains details of an Egyptian government fax which was intercepted by Switzerland's intelligence service in November.

The fax suggests the Egyptian government knew through its own sources that the CIA was running secret interrogation centres for terror suspects in Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo.

The fax - which was on its way from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo to its embassy in London - was intercepted by Switzerland's satellite listening system, written up in a classified document and passed to senior Swiss intelligence officers and also, it's believed, to government ministers.

Investigations have been launched into the source of the leak to the SonntagsBlick newspaper and against the two journalists who published the details.

Why Dick Marty believes secret detention centres exist

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