Thursday, November 3, 2005; Posted: 8:36 a.m. EST (13:36 GMT)

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Commission has said it will look into reports that the CIA set up secret jails for al Qaeda captives in eastern Europe.

The governments of the European Union's 25 members nations will be informally questioned about the allegations, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Friso Roscam Abbing, the EU's spokesman on Justice, Freedom and Security, told CNN he had "seen reports on allegations made by Human Rights Watch" but said the EU needed to get clarification from its member states before deciding its next move.

"As far as the treatment of prisoners is concerned ... it is clear that all 25 member states having signed up to European Convention on Human Rights, and to the International Convention Against Torture, are due to respect and fully implement the obligations deriving from those treaties," The Associated Press quoted Roscam Abbing as saying.

U.S. officials have refused to comment on the accuracy of a Washington Post report that top al Qaeda suspects were being held for questioning "at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe."

But U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley said President George W. Bush had demanded that U.S. agents treat prisoners "in a way that is consistent with our values and principles."

"Some people say that the test of your principles is what you do when no one's looking," Hadley said.

"The president has insisted that whether it is in the public or it is in private, the same principles will apply and the same principles will be respected," he said.

"To the extent people do not meet up, measure up to those principles, there will be accountability." The Post cited U.S. officials and those from other governments familiar with the arrangement for its report.

The network, the Washington Post said, was "a central element" in the CIA's battle against terrorism, but its existence was known to only a handful of officials at home and abroad.

If true, the arrangement suggests U.S. agents are engaged in activities "that under U.S. law and in U.S. territory and by U.S. personnel would be clearly illegal," said former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, who was once a federal prosecutor.

"There are very serious questions also that what's going on here is also contrary to documents and treaties that the U.S. is a party to," the former congressman from Georgia told CNN.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also joined the chorus of calls for access to all foreign terrorism suspects held by the U.S. (Full story)

"We are concerned at the fate of an unknown number of people captured as part of the so-called global war on terror and held at undisclosed places of detention," Antonella Notari, chief ICRC spokeswoman, told Reuters in response to a question.

"Access to detainees is an important humanitarian priority for the ICRC and a logical continuation of our current work in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay," she added.

Poland and Romania, close U.S. allies in ex-communist central Europe, on Thursday denied suggestions by the New York-based Human Rights Watch that they were among countries hosting secret Central Intelligence Agency detention centers.

"There are no CIA bases in Romania," Romanian Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu told reporters, Reuters said

Former Polish defense minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski also denied the report as did a senior security official from the new government which took over on Monday.

"Holding foreign nationals on Polish territory would be illegal," the official told Reuters.

"I don't think any Polish government would want to do that," he said, adding that a government statement would follow later on Thursday.

Szmajdzinski ruled out any detention of such suspects in Poland. "We aren't detaining terrorists, or interrogating them, or doing anything else with them," he told private Radio Zet.


source: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/11/03/eu.cia/