Council of Europe: CIA used Prague Airport for refuelling "secret flights"

Senator Dick Marty, photo: CTK

Governments around Europe have rejected the findings of the Swiss Senator Dick Marty in his report for the Council of Europe, which claims that 14 European countries colluded with the CIA on secret flights carrying terror suspects for interrogation. Senator Marty includes the Czech Republic on a list of countries which allegedly provided refuelling stopovers for the planes. The Czech authorities say as far they were concerned the flights were carrying US military personnel, and therefore they had no reason to intervene. But are they telling the whole truth? Radek Kohl is head of security analysis at Prague's Institute of International Relations.

Senator Dick Marty,  photo: CTK
"I would say that especially the Czech intelligence services should know about the type of the flights that were operated through Prague airport. They probably knew in weak terms what they were used for. I do not think that anybody at a high level in the ministry or the government as such knew exactly, or wanted to know, what was happening. I would rather say that the more intelligent members of the Czech government wanted to look the other direction."

The Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said he didn't know, telling the media - 'Of course we didn't know about them. If they were just stopovers, there's no way we could know about them. An aircraft is considered as sovereign territory of the state to which it belongs.' Is he correct in that?

"I would say that largely he is correct. If I'm not mistaken, there is moreover a bilateral agreement with the United States that dates back years if not decades, that effectively doesn't allow the Czech authorities to search for details of who is being carried on board civilian or military planes. And that would certainly prevent anybody from looking for those details in those CIA-operated flights."

Some European politicians argue that extraordinary methods have to be used to protect Europe from extraordinary threats, like the threat posed by Islamist terrorists. Do you think Czechs are generally supportive of the idea of extraordinary rendition?

"I'm not sure whether this argument about extraordinary measures being taken against extraordinary threats would bring such a positive response, especially if the human rights barrier was crossed so grossly. There are countries, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, even France, which were targeted by domestic terrorists over decades, so they have much more experience with the thin line between effective counter-terrorism efforts and human rights abuses. While for most of the other countries, the terrorist threat is still rather distant, so I'm not sure whether they would across the board support this rather US-sounding argument."