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EU, US "Partners" on CIA Flights: Amnesty

By REUTERS

06/14/06 "
New York Times" -- -- BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Amnesty International urged European states on Wednesday to stop being ``partners in crime'' with the United States over the alleged kidnapping of terrorism suspects and their transfer to countries that use torture.

In a report and a letter addressed to EU leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, the human rights group backed accusations that the CIA ran secret transfer flights known as ''renditions,'' and that European countries were aware of them.

``There is irrefutable evidence of European complicity in the unlawful practice of renditions,'' Amnesty said in the letter.

``The European Council must therefore put a resolute stop to the attitude of see no evil, hear no evil that has prevailed so far,'' Amnesty said, referring to the EU summit.

The human rights group urged EU leaders to say in their meeting this week that the so-called rendition flights were ''unacceptable'' and to make sure their airspace and airports were not used for such flights in the future.

It asked EU leaders to raise the issue with President Bush when they meet him in Vienna on June 21, saying the bloc's credibility was at stake.

Amnesty's report draws largely the same conclusions as those issued by EU lawmakers on Monday, and last week by the Council of Europe, a European human rights watchdog. None produced hard evidence.

The Council of Europe report said more than 20 mostly European countries colluded in a ``global spider's web'' of secret CIA jails and flight transfers of terrorist suspects that stretched from Asia to Guantanamo Bay.

In a new report published on Wednesday, the Council's Secretary General Terry Davis said additional information from member states confirmed that many countries lacked adequate safeguards against human rights violations by foreign agents.

``Very few countries appear to have adopted adequate and effective procedures to monitor whether aircraft transiting through their airspace are used for purposes incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights,'' it said.

Davis would shortly make recommendations on legal measures that could be taken on the national and European levels to reinforce existing protection against rendition and illegal detention, the Council of Europe said.

Amnesty reported on six suspected cases of abuses by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in which it said seven countries -- Germany, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Bosnia, Macedonia and Turkey -- were involved.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Ltd.

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