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German ministers 'knew about CIA torture cells'

Tony Paterson / London Independent | October 25 2006

The German government is alleged to have received first-hand evidence that the CIA began torturing terrorist suspects at secret prisons in Europe shortly after the September 11 attacks, despite claiming it only knew about such sites through the media.

Stern magazine quoted a leaked German intelligence report yesterday which said that only weeks after September 11 2001, two agents and a translator visited a US military prison at the American "Eagle Base" in the Bosnian town of Tuzla, where they saw a torture victim.

The German intelligence report said US interrogators at the base had beaten a 70-year-old terrorist suspect with rifle butts and that "his injuries meant that he had to be given 20 stitches to the head wound he sustained". The report said the American interrogator responsible "appeared to be proud" of his actions.

Stern said the German intelligence agents had been given access to documents confiscated by the Americans which were "smeared with blood". One German agent was said to have compared the actions of the US interrogators to Serbian war criminals during the break up of Yugoslavia. "The Serbs ended up before the international court in The Hague for this kind of thing," he was quoted as saying.
The two German agents and their translator had been asked to appear at the base to help the Americans interrogate suspects and help evaluate confiscated material. But according to the leaked report, they immediately informed Germany's federal prosecutor of what they had witnessed and left the base shortly afterwards. The magazine's report appeared to directly contradict the German government's claims that it had only been made aware of the possible existence of secret CIA interrogation centres in Europe through media reports. Stern said that German intelligence, the country's Federal Criminal Bureau and German military intelligence had all been informed about the agents' visit to "Eagle Base". All three agencies refused to comment on the Stern report yesterday.

Germany was heavily criticised last year for allowing CIA prisoner rendition flights to stop over in the country. The German parliament is currently considering opening an investigation into allegations by a former terrorist suspect held prisoner by the US in Afghanistan that German special forces assisted in his interrogation.



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