That’s the conclusion of a seven month long investigation by the Council of Europe. But the evidence remains weak and the report is just a rehash of old material.
The BBC has seen advanced copies of a report by Swiss MP Dick Marty:
The report is quoted as saying: "It is now clear - although we are still far from having established the truth - that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities."
Countries such as Spain, Turkey, Britain, Germany and Cyprus provided "staging posts" for rendition operations, says the report.
Mr Marty is said to have concluded that the "spider's web" of US rendition flights is based on an "utterly alien" approach that breaches human rights.
The most serious charges are reportedly levelled at Poland and Romania, where Mr Marty says there is enough evidence to support suspicions that CIA secret prisons were established.
The evidence, that has been made public anyway, is based on flight logs showing that planes did indeed touch down in northern Poland, but little else.
I argued last year that the view that Poland was the site of ‘gulags’ – one journalists last year even went as far as to call them the ‘US Auschwitz’ - was based on stereotypes of central Europe, not reality.
The original report, by Human Rights Watch singled out Poland and Romania as the site of prisons where terrorist suspects were tortured.
HRW’s evidence seems to be based, only, on the flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004. "The indications are that prisoners in Afghanistan are being (taken) to facilities in Europe and other countries in the world," HRW’s Mark Garlasco, a former civilian intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, told AP.
He said that in September 2003, a Boeing 737 flew from Washington to Kabul, Afghanistan, making stops along the way in the Czech Republic and Uzbekistan. On Sept. 22, the plane flew on to Szymany Airfield in Poland, and then to Sale, Morocco, and finally to Guantanamo Bay.
Since then accusations have been made against a whole host of countries in Europe. Records show that over 100 CIA planes touched down in the UK, for instance. In Poland we only have evidence of a handful of flights landing. But we have no evidence that anyone actually got off these planes.
Poles remain nonplussed by the accusations. But Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz has reacted angrily, saying these alllegations "are slanderous'
Pawel Wronski, a journalist at Gazeta Wyborcza, has been investigating the Polish connection to the CIA secret prison story ever since its publication by the Washington Post. He told Radio Polonia:
'I was at Szymany airport, but there is no possibility to build a prison there where the CIA can keep people, because there are no fences around this airport. Noone has given me any information where these prisons are in Poland.'
Update 19.00: Inside the ‘spider’s web’
Reading through the reports 67 pages (yawn!) 90 percent of which is a re-hash of material in the public domain, you have to feel sorry for Dick Marty. He’s been given a bum job.
As he says himself in the introduction, he is not an ‘investigator’ but merely a reporter. He has no powers to coerce governments, secret service agents, or even his mother to tell him anything. So what he has to ‘report’ is limited, largely, to him trying to stick together material that we already know.
His conclusion is this:
‘there is no formal evidence at this stage …of secret detention centers in Poland, Romania or other C & E states…even though serious indicators continue to exist and grow stronger (my emphasis).
So, though there is ‘no evidence’ there is ‘serious indicators’ and it’s on these serious indicators’ that Marty has concluded that that 'authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA'.
But what are these ‘serious indicators?
Flight logs, satellite photos (showing buildings, planes…) and a few ‘contacts’, mostly the same ones as used by Human Rights watch and the Washington Post. The report says of Poland:
‘We were able to identity several specific locators at a civil airport and a secret service base…which would be suitable for the secret detention of persons from abroad.’
So has he found a couple of wardrobes, or what?
The report reminds us that the policy of ‘rendition’ – steeling people of the street and banging them up in another country without trial – began under the second Clinton administration, not George W Bush’s.
He names 11 places around the world where such ‘suitable places’ exist, including Cairo, Istanbul, Kabul, Bucharest and Szymany airstrip in northern Poland.
One of the CIA flights, N313P, from Kabul to Guantanamo Bay touched down in Szymany airstrip on 22 September, 2003. It stayed there for 67 minutes. Then it went to Romania and then to Rabat, Morocco.
Marty thinks that, as there was no need to refuel in Poland, evil things must be afoot.
‘One may deduce that this flight,’ says Marty,’ that this was a CIA flight, culminating in a detainee drop off in Poland.’
Sadly, Marty never really does convince from this logic that prisoners were held in Poland. Rendition is occurring - and many other things by a half out of control CIA - but the evidence of anything sinister going on in Poland remains as weak as it was seven months ago.
Read Dick Marty’s report in full (67 pages, pdf format