Sunday, January 15, 2006 News - CIA policy on terror suspects is 'illegal'
US POLICIES in the war on terror are contravening international laws on human rights, a top European investigator has said.

"The strategy in place today respects neither human rights nor the Geneva Conventions," said Dick Marty, the head of a European investigation into alleged CIA prisons in Europe.

"The current administration in Washington is trying to combat terrorism outside legal means, the rule of law."

Marty, a Swiss politician leading the inquiry on behalf of the Council of Europe, said there was no question that the CIA was undertaking illegal activities in Europe in its transportation and detention of prisoners.

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

The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, began its investigation after allegations surfaced in November that US agents interrogated key al-Qaeda suspects at clandestine prisons in Eastern Europe and transported some suspects to other countries via Europe.

New York-based Human Rights Watch identified Romania and Poland as possible sites of secret US-run detention facilities. Both countries have denied involvement.

Marty said European countries had "a fairly shocking attitude" toward US policies, and that attention should not be focused solely on Romania and Poland.

"All the indications are that this 'extraordinary rendition' was already known about," Marty said, referring to the CIA programme of transferring terrorism suspects to third countries where some allegedly were subjected to torture.

Marty referred to the case of the abduction of Egyptian cleric and terrorist suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street in 2003 to back up his claim.

Italian prosecutors claim he was taken by the CIA to a joint US-Italian air base, flown to Germany and then to Egypt. The prosecutors have sought to extradite 22 purported CIA operatives from the US, although the Justice Ministry in Italy has not yet decided whether to forward the requests to Washington.

Italy also has issued European arrest warrants for them, meaning they could be detained if they travel to any of the 25 countries in the EU.

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