U.S. torture report puts Romania's role under scrutiny

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U.S. torture report puts Romania's role under scrutiny
This undated handout photo provided by GeoEye shows a satellite aerial view of The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo/GeoEye)
CHANGES name of country bordering Romania to Serbia; Graphic shows CIA prison location in Bucharest, Romania
** FILE ** Romanian military staff stands at the end of a corridor on the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, some 250 kilometers east of Bucharest, in this Nov. 9 2005 file photo. Establishing the exact nature of Romania's involvement in a suspected secret U.S. program is crucial to building the case that Washington sidestepped international human rights conventions by persuading allies to perform dirty work on terror suspects that would have otherwise been illegal in the United States. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file) ** zu unserem Korr **
The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, sits in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest in this recent photo. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo)
The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, sits in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest in this recent photo. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo)
This is a copy of the cover of the CIA torture report released by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. U.S. Senate investigators delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogations Tuesday, accusing the spy agency of inflicting suffering on prisoners beyond its legal limits and peddling unsubstantiated stories that the harsh questioning saved American lives. (AP Photo)
The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, sits in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest in this recent photo. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo)
Ambassador James Woolsey, who was CIA Director from 1993 to 1995, insists the torture report should never have been released. (The National Academy of Sciences/Flickr)
FILE - This undated file photo shows al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. After U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin laden in Pakistan in May 2011, top CIA officials secretly told lawmakers that information gleaned from brutal interrogations played a key role in what was one of the spy agency’s greatest successes. CIA director Leon Panetta repeated that assertion in public, and it found its way into a critically acclaimed movie about the operation, Zero Dark Thirty, which depicts a detainee offering up the identity of bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmad al- Kuwaiti, after being tortured at a CIA “black site.” As it turned out, Bin Laden was living in al Kuwaiti’s walled family compound, so tracking the courier was the key to finding the al-Qaida leader. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - This undated file photo provided by U.S. Central Command, shows Abu Zubaydah, date and location unknown. A new document indicates the CIA first proposed to top Bush administration officials in mid-May 2002 that alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah be submitted to waterboarding. That was three months before the U.S. Justice Department approved the interrogation technique in a secret legal opinion. (AP Photo/U.S. Central Command, File)
Iyman Faris, 34, is shown in this photo made available by the U.S. Justice Department. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA program that included torturing al-Qaida detainees provides eight “primary” examples in which the CIA said it obtained good intelligence as a result of what it called “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the Senate panel’s conclusions that the information was available elsewhere and without resorting to brutal interrogations. The CIA said the brutal interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed identified an Ohio truck driver, Iyman Faris, who later pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. (AP Photo/Dept. of Justice)
FILE - An undated file photo provided by the U.S. District Attorney's office shows Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. The Guantanamo Bay detainee brought to the United States for trial on charges he helped the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa while he was an aide to Osama bin Laden cannot use allegations of torture by the CIA to dismiss the indictment, a judge said Monday May 10, 2010. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 3, 2005 file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. Senate investigators have delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits. The torture report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA deceived the nation with its insistence that the harsh interrogation tactics had saved lives. It says those claims are unsubstantiated by the CIA's own records. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 09: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, talks with reporters after sharing a report on the CIA and it's torture methods, December 9, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who's poised to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, after he joined Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. to endorse the release of a report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks. Some Republican leaders objected to the report's release and challenged its contention that harsh tactics didn't work, but McCain, tortured in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, welcomed the report and endorsed its findings. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, center, speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Ghani said, "The Afghan government condemns in the strongest language the inhuman and unjustifiable practices detailed in the report." (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Earnest answered questions about the Senate CIA torture report. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R), and Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (L), listen as the Senate Republican speak to members of the media after the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the Capitol December 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate Republican leadership responded to a report on CIA's use of torture conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee where were released today. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 9: Sen. Diane Feinstein(D-CA), makes her way through a crush of reporters toward the Senate floor to deliver her remarks on the CIA report on torture released this morning on December, 09, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to members of the media after the Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the Capitol December 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senator Reid responded to a report on CIA's use of torture conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee where were released today. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Pakistani private security guards stand on duty outside the US consulate in Lahore on December 9, 2014. The US Senate will release a long-delayed report into the CIA's brutal interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects after the 2001 attacks, as American embassies went on heightened alert amid fears of a backlash. AFP PHOTO / Arif ALI (Photo credit should read Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)
A lighthouse and old migrants boats on the ground of the marine museum, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
The original courtroom at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
A display of the restraint chair that the Navy medics use to tube-feed hunger strikers on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - The lawyer for a man tortured by the CIA said Romania's authorities should acknowledge the role they played after a U.S. 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 center 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 $1 million to thank it for supporting the agency's detention program. 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 U.S. 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.

Amrit Singh, a lawyer for Saudi national Adb al-Rahim al-Nashiri said the Senate report confirmed her client's allegations that he was tortured in a CIA jail in Romania and that Romanian authorities failed to protect his rights.

The Senate report contains details of al-Nashiri's treatment that come direct from the CIA's own files, information not previously available. The report says he was tortured by the CIA, without saying where.

Now in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, he has applied to the European Court of Human Rights for a judgment against Romania, arguing it allowed his secret detention and torture, and later failed to investigate properly. The court has agreed to hear the case but has not delivered a judgment. A spokeswoman for the court declined to comment on questions relating to the Senate report.

"It is incumbent on the Romanian authorities to acknowledge the truth," said Singh, who works for the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative. "The truth is that there was a secret CIA prison on their territory."

She said Romania had a legal obligation to prevent secret detention or torture, and there were enough reports of CIA abuses in the international media at the time to give Romania grounds to believe this might happen.

U.S. ALLIES

The European Convention on Human Rights, to which Romania is a signatory, says states have an obligation to ensure those in their jurisdiction are protected from torture or extra-judicial detention.

The Senate report has shone an uncomfortable light on some European Union states which hosted the jails. Poland and Lithuania also hosted CIA detention sites, according to former Polish officials and Lithuanian lawmakers.

In Romania's case, the report says detainees first arrived in autumn 2003. That coincides with a Sept. 22, 2003 flight to Romania which, according to the al-Nashiri application to the European court of Human Rights, was chartered by the CIA to bring detainees to the Romanian detention site.

The Senate report also says the site was wound down in autumn 2005. That coincides with extracts from air traffic control flight data, reviewed by Reuters, for flights into and out of Romania.

Aircraft making those flights can be traced back, via invoices, flight plans and court documents also reviewed by Reuters, to companies contracted by the CIA to transport detainees between foreign detention sites. Many of those documents were first uncovered by Reprieve, a campaign group whose research on CIA flights has been cited by the European parliament.

"MEDIOCRE OR USELESS" INTELLIGENCE

In 2002, the CIA was looking for new places to interrogate suspects. It told its local station chief to draft a "wishlist" of assistance it could give the government in the country where it was planning to locate "detention site BLACK" to express its appreciation, the report said.

"CIA Headquarters provided the Station with $[]million more than was requested for the purposes of the subsidy," the report said, blacking out the amount of money and the name of the country. It went on: "CIA detainees were transferred to DETENTION SITE BLACK in Country [] in the fall of 2003."

Talpes, the former national security adviser, said Romania might have received money from U.S. intelligence for providing specific help, but that it was "nonsense" they could have been paid to allow a CIA jail of which they were ignorant.

By the time many of the detainees reached the site, they had been in detention for years, been interrogated hundreds of times and had no more information to give up, the report said.

It said many of the detainees the CIA designated as "high-value" were held at the site, among them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He is at Guantanamo Bay awaiting trial on charges of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.

The CIA officer in charge of the site complained to headquarters that he was being sent interrogators who were ill-trained. A few of them were incompetent, the report quoted the officer in charge as saying.

"The result, quite naturally, is the production of mediocre or, I dare say, useless intelligence," the report cited the officer, who was not identified by name, as saying in an April 15, 2005 email.

On Nov. 2 the same year, the Washington Post newspaper published an article saying the CIA was running jails in eastern Europe, without naming the countries.

"After publication of the Washington Post article, Country [] demanded the closure of DETENTION SITE BLACK within hours," the report said, with the name of the country blacked out. "The CIA transferred the remaining CIA detainees out of the facility shortly thereafter."

(Additional reporting by Matthias Williams in Bucharest and Mark Hosenball in Washington; editing by Janet McBride)

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