Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Probe of CIA Prison Allegations Begins

Probe of CIA Prison Allegations Begins

By JAN SLIVA, Associated Press WriterTue Nov 8, 8:27 PM ET

The head of an investigation into allegations of secret CIA prisons in eastern Europe for terror suspects said Tuesday he will begin his work by presuming that the countries implicated have been wrongly accused.

"So far, all we have is a suspicion. There have been certain reports and they must be investigated," said Dick Marty, a Swiss parliamentarian who was appointed Monday by the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly to investigate the allegations.

Last week, The Washington Post reported the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era compounds in eastern Europe.

The paper did not name the countries involved, but Human Rights Watch said Thursday it had evidence indicating the CIA had transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

The conclusion was based on an analysis of flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004 obtained by the group, said Mark Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the organization.

Marty told The Associated Press by telephone from Switzerland that he will request information on the issue from all 46 Council of Europe member states. He said he hopes to discuss the matter at a meeting of the parliamentary assembly's legal affairs committee later this month in Romania and have a final report ready by January.

The allegations have triggered a flurry of denials from governments in the former Soviet bloc and prompted European Union officials and the international Red Cross to say they would look into the issue. Such prisons, European officials say, would violate the continent's human rights principles.

The CIA's general counsel sent a report to the Justice Department about the Post story shortly after it was published, a U.S. official said Tuesday. It was the first step toward a criminal investigation of a leak of possibly classified information, the official said on condition of anonymity because the issue deals with classified information.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert also circulated a letter Tuesday calling for a congressional investigation into the matter. The letter said that if the Post story was accurate, "such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences."

Marty said he had yet to see a firm denial of the allegations by the United States.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sidestepped questions on the issue Tuesday, saying the United States was in a "different kind of war" and had an obligation to defend itself.

___

Associated Press Writer Katherine Schrader contributed to this report in Washington.

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