The Nether-World

February 16, 2007

The Fallout Over Rendition Grows

Filed under: European Politics, Terrorism, Torture — netherworld @ 7:41 pm

Following the vote in the the EU Parliament which saw the approval of the MEPs report into CIA abductions and renditions, Italy, which came in for heavy criticism (as did Britain), is taking some action.

An Italian judge has ordered 26 US citizens – most of them CIA agents – to stand trial over the kidnap of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003.

Osama Mustafa Hassan was allegedly seized by the CIA and flown to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

Seven Italians were also indicted, including Italy’s ex-military intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari.

The case would be the first criminal trial over the secret US practice known as “extraordinary rendition”.

Not only will this be the first trial over rendition, it will also be the biggest ever trial of US intelligence agents in an allied country. The trial is due to begin on June 8 and the American suspects are likely to be tried in absentia as they are believed to have fled the country including Robert Seldon Lady, the former station chief of CIA operations in Milan, who has abandoned his Italian villa and says he was over-ruled in his opposition to the Kidnap. He also says (through his lawyer) that he does not recognise the court.

One Italian policeman has already been jailed for 21 months for stopping the cleric in order for the CIA to abduct him. His reduced sentence was part of a plea-bargain. According to him, the CIA said that they were trying to recruit Omar and that the operation had the approval of the US and Italian governments. Nicolo Pollari is trying to hide behind the Italian state secrets act and so is not co-operating with the court apart from insisting that Italian military intelligence did nothing wrong. The Italian government has yet to seek the extradition of the US citizens and it will be interesting to see if it does and what reaction it will get from the US authorities who, as we know, are always keen to uphold the rule of law. Somehow I doubt it will happen. Osama Mustafa Hassan however, despite risking prosecution for terrorism charges, wants to return to Italy as a refugee and testify against Berlusconi and his administration. He was released from Egyptian custody when the authorities there decided they had no reason to hold him.

What is interesting about this case is that it looks like being the first of many prosecutions around Europe. Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Romania are all conducting investigations. Unsurprisingly, the UK is not conducting any investigation, but then Tony Blair has yet to acknowledge that there is any such thing as extraordinary rendition.

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November 29, 2006

Britain Accused Of Collusion With CIA In Draft European Parliament Report On Torture Flights

Filed under: Bliar, European Politics, Rendition, Torture — netherworld @ 4:59 am

If Tony Blair thought the issue of Extraordinary Rendition was going away, he must be pretty disappointed. The draft report on extraordinary rendition following the investigation by MEPs has shown that Britain has allowed 170 secret CIA torture flights, second only to Germany’s whopping 336 flights out of at least 1,245 flights in European territory. Ten countries are accused of allowing stopovers. They are:

  • Germany 336
  • Britain 170
  • Ireland 147
  • Portugal 91
  • Spain 68
  • Greece 64
  • Cyprus 57
  • Italy 46
  • Romania 21
  • Poland 11

The report condemns many EU nations saying that they were aware renditions were taking place and failed to co-operate with the investigation. I reported earlier on Geoff Hoon’s unhelpful and evasive behaviour during the investigation.

Giovanni Claudio Fava’s draft report “deplores” the level of co-operation Geoff Hoon, the Europe Minister, gave the MEPs, and condemns the rendition of one British citizen and three British residents, two of whom were said to have been seized on the basis of “partly erroneous information supplied by the UK security service MI5”.

There are now likely to be more demands for a full parliamentary inquiry into the practice of extraordinary rendition by MPs following this draft report which shows that there were far more rendition flights than have previously been admitted by the Government.

Poland has come in for particular criticism because there is good circumstantial evidence that one of the ‘Black sites’ that President Bush has acknowledged exist is located in the Polish intelligence training centre at Stare Kiejkuty. Romania too has been similarly accused. Both countries have declined to make any further statements after their denials last Summer. The Bush administration, despite admitting the existence of ‘black sites’ and the reality of extraordinary rendition, continues to deny that it authorises and participates in torture. The evidence supplied by Khaled el-Masri and others makes a mockery of those denials. Blair’s government too has now been shown to have at least been complicit in torture.

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