STRASBOURG, France – The head of a European investigation into alleged CIA secret prisons in Europe said Tuesday there was evidence the United States outsourced torture to other countries and it was likely European governments knew about it.
But Swiss senator Dick Marty said there was no formal evidence so far of the existence of clandestine detention centers in Romania or Poland as alleged by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
"There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture," Marty said in a report presented to the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog investigating the alleged secret prisons.
The report said more than 100 terror suspects may have been transferred to countries where they faced torture or ill treatment in recent years.
"It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware," Marty said in the report.
The Council of Europe launched its probe after allegations surfaced in November that U.S. agents interrogated key Al Qaeda suspects at clandestine prisons in eastern Europe and transported some suspects to other countries passing through Europe.
Human Rights Watch identified Romania and Poland as possible sites of secret U.S.-run detention facilities. Both countries have denied involvement, and Marty's report said there was no formal, irrefutable evidence of secret CIA prisons in either country, or anywhere else in Europe.
Clandestine detention centers would violate European human rights treaties.
"On the other hand, it has been proved that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and all rights and transported to different destinations in Europe to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture," the report said.
In the report, Marty analyzed the cases of an Egyptian cleric allegedly kidnapped in Italy and sent back to Egypt and a German captured in Macedonia and taken to Afghanistan.
Last week, Italy's justice minister formally asked the United States to allow Italian prosecutors to question 22 purported CIA operatives they accuse of kidnapping the Egyptian cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, in 2003 from a Milan street.
Prosecutors say Nasr, believed to belong to an Islamic terror group, was taken by the CIA to a joint U.S.-Italian air base, flown to Germany and then to Egypt, where he claims he was tortured.
Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, is suing the CIA for wrongful imprisonment and torture, saying he was seized in Macedonia on Dec. 31, 2003, and taken by CIA agents to Afghanistan, where he was allegedly abused before being released in Albania in May 2004.
Citing an American lawyer, Marty also said six Bosnians were abducted by American agents on Bosnian soil and taken to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite a Bosnian judgment ordering their release.