US torture report puts Romania's role under scrutiny

US torture report puts Romania's role under scrutiny

The lawyer for a man tortured by the CIA said Romania's authorities should acknowledge the role they played after a US Senate report pointed to Romania as the site of the secret CIA jail where the man was interrogated.

The report did not name countries that hosted CIA jails, but it gave details of prisoners being transferred to and from "detention centre BLACK" which matched air traffic records of CIA-chartered planes passing through Romanian airports between 2003 and 2005. Some of these records were independently reviewed by Reuters while others were cited in court documents.

According to the Senate report, the CIA gave the government that hosted the secret jail at least US$1 million (S$1.3 million) to thank it for supporting the agency's detention programme. The report cited the un-named CIA officer in charge of the jail telling his superiors that, despite harsh interrogation techniques, the intelligence produced was often useless.

Ioan Talpes, who was national security adviser for Romania's president from 2000 to 2004, told Reuters Romania had allowed US intelligence to operate a facility in Romania, but Romanian officials were unaware people were detained there and did not receive money in exchange for hosting any jail.

Of the facility used by the CIA, he said "it was clearly established by the Romanian side that Romanians do not participate in this, and so it was agreed with the Americans."

"We even did not know what would be there. In such situations it is better not to interfere.. We facilitated, we put at their disposal materials they had been asking for, but not with Romanian participation."

The office of Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta sent questions from Reuters about the report to the foreign ministry. In a statement, the ministry said the Senate report released to the public contained no references to Romania and Romanian authorities had no evidence showing there were CIA detention centers in Romania.

Nevertheless, the ministry said authorities were cooperating with a judicial investigation inside Romania into allegations about a CIA jail in the country.

"The competent authorities are taking all necessary steps to solve this case, with full respect of the principles of the rule of law and human rights," the statement said.

President Traian Basescu did not respond to written questions. The Romanian foreign intelligence service said it had no information to show CIA detention centers existed on Romanian territory.

Ion Iliescu, who was president from 2000 to 2004, told Reuters, when asked about a CIA facility: "I did not know many things. And I don't know anything about this matter."

The CIA declined comment.

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