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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 13:10 GMT
Europe sets up CIA prison inquiry
Ankle cuffs used by the US military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The committee will investigate whether EU citizens were involved
The European Parliament is setting up a committee to investigate claims that the CIA has been transporting suspects to secret prisons in Europe.

The US has come under pressure over allegations that the CIA ran secret jails for terror suspects abroad and flew some through European airports.

The committee's inquiry will run alongside the investigation by human rights watchdog the Council of Europe.

The 46 members of the new committee are set to be announced on Thursday.

Their mandate will include analysing:

  • Whether the CIA has carried out abductions, "extraordinary rendition", detentions at secret sites, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners on EU territory or flown prisoners through, to or from member states

  • Whether such actions violated human rights treaties

  • Whether there have been detentions of citizens from EU states or candidate countries

  • Whether EU member states or institutions have been involved in the illegal deprivation of the liberty of individuals.

If any evidence of involvement is found, the parliament could open sanctions proceedings that could lead to the loss of EU voting rights.

Human Rights Watch has said it has circumstantial evidence suggesting that the CIA transported suspects captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania - both of which have denied the claims.

Germany denied any role in the abduction of its national Khaled al-Masri, who says he was seized by US intelligence agents in 2003 and taken to Afghanistan, where he was held for five months and mistreated.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said Washington would never condone torture, without categorically denying that some terror suspects were transported through or held in Europe.

The committee's first interim report is due in four months' time.

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