Abril 18, 2007

Europeans Critical of Rendition by U.S.

By DESMOND BUTLER Associated Press Writer

April 18,2007 | WASHINGTON -- Members of the European Parliament who were behind a critical report on CIA anti-terrorism tactics have been challenging Bush administration and congressional officials with their findings.

The delegation told a congressional panel Tuesday that a CIA practice of spiriting away terrorism suspects was illegal and scheduled a news conference Wednesday to discuss their findings.

The delegation, which includes members of a European Parliament civil liberties panel, briefed members of two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees during a hearing on renditions -- the practice of grabbing suspected terrorists in one country and delivering them to another.

The parliamentarians also responded to complaints by CIA Director Michael Hayden that their report had exaggerated greatly the extent of CIA renditions.

Carlo Fava, author of a committee report accusing Britain, Poland, Italy and other nations of colluding with the CIA to transport terror suspects to clandestine prisons in third countries, told the members of Congress that the parliament considers rendition "an illegal instrument used by the United States in the fight against terrorism," according to prepared testimony.

"For us as European parliamentarians, the very notion of 'rendition' or 'extradition' done outside the control of any judicial authority within the territory of the European Union is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights," said Jonathan Evans, chairman of the European delegation.

Hayden privately made the case to European diplomats in Washington last month that the CIA renditions were an essential tool that had helped the United States and European countries fight international terror, according to a Western official familiar with Hayden's remarks.

During the luncheon, which was first described in The Washington Post, he said that the renditions carried out by the United States before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have all been "conducted within the law."

Moreover, the Western official who spoke about Hayden's comments said the CIA chief told the Europeans the renditions had occurred with the knowledge and many times the assistance of the countries where the suspects were seized. The official requested anonymity because Hayden's remarks were made to a private audience.

Sarah Ludford, vice chairwoman of the parliamentary committee, told the congressional panel that Hayden's claim about European involvement matched the findings of their investigation.

"We in fact agree with CIA director Michael Hayden, who is quoted in the press today complaining about the agency's critics in Europe," she said.

The parliament has condemned the collaboration of European governments and their attempts to hide their involvement.

Ludford said the committee had found that rendition was not only illegal but counterproductive because it undermines the cooperation of police and judicial bodies in fighting terror, among other reasons.

"Many of us are hugely inspired by the constitutional values of the United States and very troubled indeed at the great damage done to the reputation and credibility of the United States by the human rights breaches of the last five years and indeed of its effectiveness in counterterrorism," she said.


Associated Press Writer Katherine Shrader contributed to this report.

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