PARIS - A European investigator said Tuesday he has found mounting indications the United States illegally held detainees in Europe but then hurriedly shipped out the last ones to North Africa a month ago when word leaked out.
Dick Marty, a Swiss senator looking into claims the CIA-operated secret prisons in Europe, said an ongoing, monthlong investigation unearthed "clues" that Poland and Romania were implicated - perhaps unwittingly. Both countries have denied any involvement and Marty said he believes no prisoners are now being held by the U.S. in Europe.
"To my knowledge, those detainees were moved about a month ago, maybe a little more," he told reporters after briefing the legal committee of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, on his findings. "They were moved to North Africa."
Asked by The Associated Press on the sidelines of the meeting to which North African country detainees might have been moved, he said: "I would imagine that it would be Morocco - up to you to confirm it."
Moroccan government spokesman Nabil Benabdellah denied any connection to such prisons when reports of the transfers surfaced last week.
The Washington Post first reported the alleged existence of secret prisons in eastern Europe and other countries on Nov. 2.
Marty told reporters he could not offer proof that secret detention centers existed. But he cited two suspected cases of detainees held by U.S. authorities in Europe as signs that suspects were held at least temporarily in Europe.
The cases cited were the alleged February 2003 kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr by the CIA in Milan, Italy; and claims by Khaled al-Masri, a Lebanese-born German, that the agency took him to Afghanistan and tortured him after mistakenly identifying him as being linked to al-Qaida. Al-Masri said he was released in Albania in May 2004.
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