European Union awaits clarification from Washington over CIA secret prison camps allegations

The European Union on Sunday called on Washington to be as clear as possible about claims that it ran CIA secret prisons and flights across Europe.

European Commission spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said the EU executive office was awaiting clarification from the United States this week as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice starts a European tour on Monday. Her first stop will be in Romania, which is one of the nations identified by Human Rights Watch as a probable site of a secret detention camp.

"We stressed to the United States that they should come forward as soon as possible on this," Roscam Abbing said. "It is in both our interests to be as forthcoming and transparent as possible."

EU Commissioner Franco Frattini, who is in charge of EU justice and interior affairs, warned last week that he could propose sanctions if any EU member nation was found to have permitted a secret detention center.

EU officials have said such prisons would violate EU human rights standards. Romania is not yet a member of the EU, but is expected to join the bloc in 2007.

Roscam Abbing was not sure whether Rice would meet with EU officials to discuss the issue during her visit to Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday for talks at NATO.

Allegations the CIA hid and interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at Soviet-era compounds in Eastern Europe were first reported in The Washington Post on Nov. 2. A day later, Human Rights Watch said it had evidence the CIA transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

Several EU governments have begun formal investigations into the allegations, but so far most have only vigorously denied media reports about apparent aircraft landings and secret jails.

Britain, which currently holds the EU presidency, sent a letter to Washington also demanding answers after weeks of mounting claims made by reports that the CIA had detained and interrogated terrorism prisoners on European soil, reported AP. P.T.

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