Read diary by Plutonium Page, front paged at European Tribune ::
Secret prisons, the EU, and a very strong warning
BERLIN (Der Spiegel) — Reports keep coming in of covert CIA flights through Europe that carry terrorist suspects to places where torture is legal. A German paper reports that they haven’t stopped, which could be awkward for Angela Merkel if she wants to make nice with Washington.
Also, ex-Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet celebrates an unhappy birthday, and the EU accuses Israel of stonewalling in Jerusalem.
The Berliner Zeitung reported that American airbases in Germany had been used as pit stops for at least six secret flights, including the two most high-profile missions in the unfolding story of so-called “extraordinary renditions.”
For some time it’s been suspected that a high-profile terrorist named Abu Omar — spirited off the streets of Milan by CIA agents in early 2003, according to criminal charges in an Italian court — was transferred from one plane to another at the Ramstein base, en route to Cairo.
This week the Berlin paper reported that a Hercules C-130 landed at Frankfurt around the same time, refuelled, and took off for Baku, Azerbaijan. That flight led to an official complaint from Vienna after it showed up unexpectedly on Austrian radar.
More to follow below the fold »»
As Germany’s new foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, heads off to America on Monday, the country’s newspapers are focusing on the implications for trans-Atlantic relations. But many German commentators are worried his visit might be overshadowed by concerns about alleged CIA flights, carrying suspected terrorists across Europe.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s early visit to Washington was to underscore the importance to Germany of improved relations with America. But the ongoing reports of CIA flights across Europe carrying suspected terrorist to unknown locations where they might be subjected to torture, are threatening to derail the plans for a US-German lovefest. Steinmeier has said he will ask for clarification from his American colleagues about what exactly the US intelligence agency is up to.
These so-called “rendition flights” allegedly moved al-Qaida and other Islamist terror suspects to secret prisons in Eastern Europe and Asia where they can be interrogated and tortured beyond the reach of international human rights legislation. New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch has said such secret prisons exist in Poland and Romania.
The prisons would violate the European Convention on Human Rights; the Convention, ratified in 1950 by the Council of Europe, secures basic human rights and freedoms for people in its 46 member states.
“Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”