EU to ask US for clarification on secret CIA prisons

[JURIST] EU states have said they plan to write a joint letter to the US government seeking clarification about whether the US has been running illegal covert prisons [JURIST report] in the EU as part of its war on terror. The UK, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, agreed to compose the letter after the country was asked to write it during a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels on Monday. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the Central Intelligence Agency [official website] had been interrogating al Qaeda suspects at a secret facility in eastern Europe, prompting an investigation by EU officials [JURIST report]. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has said it has gathered evidence [HRW report] identifying Romania and Poland as countries involved in the covert operation, despite denials from both countries. The Romanian president has categorically denied the presence of secret facilities [JURIST report], though a former defense minister has acknowledged that US planes carrying detainees may have refueled in Romania [JURIST report]. Other European countries are considering probes [JURIST report] into the CIA's rendition practices and whether the CIA has used European airfields to transfer terror suspects including Spain, Sweden, and Scotland [JURIST reports]. Iceland's justice minister, Bjorn Bjarnason, has however refused to investigate [Iceland Review report] the alleged transfer of CIA prisoners through Keflavik Airport, saying the reports were based on rumors. UN officials and human rights lawyers have warned that failure to intercept such flights could breach the European Convention on Human Rights [text] and the UN Convention against Torture [text]. The Council of Europe has appointed Swiss liberal politician Dick Marty [EUObserver report] to examine the allegations and the EU said it will impose sanctions [JURIST report] against any member state found to be housing secret prisons. Reuters has more.

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