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"Small Guantanamo" in Kosovo (updated with full details)

by Jerome a Paris Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 03:38:00 AM EST

I received this morning an e-mail from Le Monde, which says that the following will be [and indeed is] the main headline of this afternoon's paper:


my translation

According to our information, the US military camp "Camp Bondsteel", in Kosovo, hosted a prison similar to that in Guantanamo. 6,000 US soldiers live on that base, which occupies 300 hectares near Ferisaj, a town south of Pristina, the "capital" of the UN-administered province.

Update [2005-11-25 14:15:40 by Jerome a Paris]: I have now access to the paper version of Le Monde, translated below.

Update [2005-11-25 14:46:15 by Jerome a Paris]: Links to the articles now available online (in French):

Une "prison secrète" américaine a existé dans un camp de l'OTAN au Kosovo (An American "secret prison" was located in a NATO camp in Kosovo)
"Bondsteel", un camp retranché à l'abri des regards (Bondsteel, a fortified camp protected from outside view)

Update [2005-11-25 8:56:2 by Jerome a Paris]: musing graze over at dKos provides this link in English from Reuters on the story.


The original text (it's from their daily e-mail announcing the headlines of their paper edition which comes out in the early afternoon, and it's sent in the morning to their subscribers):


Un "petit Guantanamo" au Kosovo
D'après nos informations, la base militaire américaine "Camp Bondsteel ", au Kosovo, a abrité une prison semblable à celle de Guantanamo. Six mille soldats de l'US Army vivent sur cette base, qui s'étire sur 300 hectares près de la localité de Ferisaj, au sud de Pristina, la " capitale " de la province administrée par l'ONU.

Their website has no information on this for the time being, but they have some interesting articles from their previous edition which say that the Swiss investigator on behalf of the Council of Europe has information from Human Rights Watch, as well as "other information" which he would not comment but said strongly suggested that there has been a network of small prisons, each with one or a few prisoners. On the other hand, that Swiss guy was saying that there was no "Guantanamo style" camp that he knew of, so today's news would be a significant break.

Update [2005-11-25 4:30:9 by Jerome a Paris]: Via Idiot Savant in the comments:

If you have Google Earth, the ICBM-address is 42o21'39" N by 21o14'36" E. Thoughtfully, half the camp is in high-resolution, so you can count the HMMWVs outside the barracks. There's also a nice aerial photo here.

And via Plutonium Page, info on Camp Bondsteel (until 1999)

Update [2005-11-25 8:15:40 by Jerome a Paris]: From the paper version of Le Monde (no link yet, will provide as soon as it's there) it appears that their main information is the testimony of Alvaro Gil Robles, the commissaire for human rights of the Council of Europe, who visited the camp in september 2002.

I have translated his quotes below and summarise the other information provided by Le Monde below. Note that the Council of Europe has NOTHING to do with the EU. It is the main organisation in Europe for democracy and human rights and includes countries like Russia, Turkey and Serbia/Montenegro since 2003)

"From one of the towers, the camp looked like a smaller version of Guantanamo. Small wood houses were surrounded by high barbed wire. I saw between 15 and 20 prisoners, locked in these houses, all dressed in orange coveralls like in Guantanamo. Most were seating, some were locked in isolated cells. Some were bearded, some were reading the Koran. There was room between the cells for guard rounds. A female US soldier working in the prison told me that she had just come here after having served in Guantanamo."

"I was shocked by what I saw"

Le Monde indicates that he was finally brought to the camp by French general Valentin, the commander of KFOR and visibly unhappy with what was happening with the prisoners, after he had asked to visit several times after hearing of extrajudiciary arrests in Kosovo. Gil Robles said that, after his visit, he asked for this to stop and states that he was assured in the year after his visit that it had.

The region has an extremely ambiguous legal status, being part of Serbia but administered by NATO on behalf of the UN with US forces only partly subject to NATO authority (and their allies unhappy about that). From 1999 on, the military had rights to arrest and hold people for 30 days without any recourse. Now rules say that prisoners have to be brought back to the judicial system which has been rebuilt by MINUK (UN) within 48 hours, but "nobody knows what happens in the military bases".

According to Gil Robles, the prisoners were a mix of locals (Serbs and Kosovars) but at least 4 were North African, officially arrested near the Macedonian border for "security reasons". They were apparently member of a Muslim NGO and were freed later as there was nothing against them.

As Le Monde notes, this is more than 3 years old and Gil Robles did not mention the camp in his report back then. But the recent emergence of the stories about CIA camps has made him speak up today so that the whole truth comes out about this camp and possible others in Europe.

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If you remember, when the WaPo first broke the story of CIa prisons in E. Europe, one of my first guesses was Kosovo.

Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Pax

Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 03:50:46 AM EST
You're right. I can't say I am surprised either.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 03:51:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is just what those Kosovars needed.

Freedom is on the run!

by Cache on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, nothing surprising about this story, except that it is becoming public and the momentum it is gaining. Guess, or maybe hopefully, it can not be stopped anymore.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:18:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And second guess, with all this stuff coming out, Merkel will probably not be to interested in a thight relationship with the Bush administration. The stench is getting stronger and stronger.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:21:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
one can hope...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 12:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Currently, their website only has their stories published in yesterday afternoon's edition, which includes the information that the Swiss investigator on behalf of the Council of Europe has the information from Human Rights Watch, as well as "other information" which he would not comment but said strongly suggested that there has been a network of small prisons, each with one or a few prisoners - and altogether it confirmed that the suspicions were very credible.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 03:51:04 AM EST
US violations of international treaties, each...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 03:58:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we're going to see several EU Member States and applicant states and others implicated in this before it's over.

Let's hope that the Commission does not try to cover this up. At least with the Council of Europe involved, we may see some investigation that we would not have otherwise seen. The Council of Europe does not exist under the same political constraints as the EU (though it does have others). The Council of Europe exists in a legal/human rights/democracy professional ethos or atmosphere. This is its reason for being, so it is likely to be a bit more forceful and diligent in its investigation. If the Council of Europe cannot stop something like this IN Europe, then its reason for its existence is truly in question.

by gradinski chai on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US gets away with this through very paltry side payments in the form (usually) of military aid. I think the EU should seriously consider undercutting the US' network of "small client states" by offering substantial economic cooperation and aid.

It would be a good use of my tax money and my share of the EU budget.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 08:46:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so this is a very significant precedent that is about to be set (obviously)...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 12:20:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This place is in Google Earth, and half of it is in hi-res. Look at 42o 21'39" N 21o14'36"E.

There's also a picture (no idea of the date) here.

So, any idea which part of it is the gulag?

by IdiotSavant on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:11:58 AM EST
Although it's called a "camp" it's actually a huge facility (360.000 square meters or 3.6 million square feet or 955 acres).

Impossible to guess which tiny area might be the gulag.

Pax

Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.
Cross-posted from Soj's diary -- CIA Secret Jails: Part 8

Dutch Minister Bot Needs Proper Answers from U.S. State Dep't

THE HAGUE Nov. 24 -- When CIA-prisons and detainee abuse in Europe is proven to be true, the Dutch will reconsider their participation in Enduring Freedom by its special forces in Afghanistan.

FM Bernhard Bot made this statement in parliament this morning. The State of the Netherlands has formally requested a clarification from the chargé d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague earlier this week. A possible use of Schiphol Airport for the spook transport of prisoners by the CIA has been put forward for answers.

The 'consequences' FM Bot referred to, is possible suspension of Dutch Special Forces operation under U.S. Command in Afghanistan. Participation of an extension within NATO to the Afghan province of Uruzgan within the ISAF contingent, may also be at stake.

The Dutch right-wing partner in the coalition, VVD Liberal Conservatives, already criticized the suggestion by VP Dick Cheney to make an exception for torture by the CIA in Iraq or Afghanistan.

For the new ISAF-mission in Uruzgan, the United Kingdom and Canada have committed forces and Dutch troops are following special training assignments in preparation, and Minister of Defense Kamp has been an advocate for Dutch participation.

Minister Bernhard Bot as Foreign Minister has the possibility to veto the commitment when the U.S. cannot provide adequate information and when the peace and security mission of the Dutch forces under ISAF interferes with the military operation Enduring Freedom.

The Dutch cabinet has requested written promises of the Afghan government, that prisoners handed over by the Dutch will be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, will not be tortured during interrogation and cannot receive a death sentence.

LEAVE Iraq to the Iraqis

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 05:47:01 AM EST
.
Diego Garcia: Paradise Isle or Britain's shame?

Gordon Thomas, investigative journalist and author of Gideon's Spies: the Secret History of the Mossad asserts that "high level leaders and operatives of Al Qaida and the Taliban are held there (on Diego Garcia)" and "none are being protected by the Geneva Conventions".

Thomas claims: "the interrogation techniques used on Diego Garcia are contained in a secret CIA manual on coercive questioning. It contains sections headed 'Threats and Fear', 'Pain', 'Narcosis' and 'Heightened Suggestibility and Hypnosis'."  

He further suggests "the presence of the prisoners on Diego Garcia is so secret that a counter-terrorism official in Washington said President Bush 'had informed the CIA he did not want to know where they were'."

A recent report by Human Rights First entitled "Ending Secret Detentions" cites Diego Garcia as a suspected site for the detention of individuals, including the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah, Hambali, otherwise known as Riduan Isamuddin.

Thomas suggests that private Lear jets regularly fly into the island with a new batch of prisoners, which, he says, have included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh and Abu Zubaydah, kidnapped from Pakistan. He says this is done with the knowledge of US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld and often with the approval of the White House.

It seems that the US administration realizes the Guantanamo experiment has failed. Rumsfeld has already admitted to "ghost" detainees who don't show up in any official documents and who have no name. How many of these are being tortured on Paradise Isle, I wonder. According to various reports, others are being held on two US prison ships - the USS Bataan and the USS Peleliu.

Ibrahim Habaci and Arif Ulusam, both Turkish; Saudi citizen Faha al Bahli; Mahmud Sardar Issa from Sudan; and Kenyan national Khalifa Abdi

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 07:31:10 AM EST
Story now updated with all the information in this afternoon's edition of Le Monde.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 08:29:45 AM EST
Gil Robles sat on this in 2002? Shame on him!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 08:43:50 AM EST
Melvin on dKos linked to this: KOSOVO 2002: GUANTANAMO BAY IN THE BALKANS

He was taken inside a building where he was stripped to his underwear and made to stand in a freezing cold room. He was kicked. His money and passport were taken away and the soldiers laughed as they did this. When he fell over, they beat him again and again - "maybe 20 times", according to the account he gave to BHHRG. Then he was told to sit down. A heater was brought and his clothes returned.

After an hour or so, he was handcuffed very tightly and painfully and dragged by the wrists to a helicopter. He was convinced that the soldiers were going to kill him by throwing him out of the helicopter but instead he was flown to Camp Bondsteel, the huge American military base in Kosovo. There he was kept outside in the cold for half an hour. He was then taken inside, finger-printed and told to sign a form outlining the rules and regulations of the camp. He was given orange prison clothes and placed inside a small hut measuring 3 metres square. By this time it was about 10 p.m. Although there was a heater, it did not work and consequently the hut was extremely cold.

Although he begged his American captors to let him go and return to his family, the man was to be kept in Camp Bondsteel for 38 days. Only after 6 days was he allowed to phone his family. He was interrogated 20 or 30 times during his incarceration. On one occasion, the interrogation occurred at 4 o'clock in the morning. Every night, he was woken every fifteen minutes and then every hour. Torches were shone into his eyes to make sure that he was awake, or the door slammed in order to disturb him.

During the interrogation, a number of false allegations and accusations were made. This had a profound psychological impact on the captive, who told BHHRG, "It destroyed me". He begged not to be kept in solitary confinement. After 4 days, a letter was brought accusing him of complicity in the attack on the USS Cole and saying that he would be detained for 30 days. He was made to sign this form. Later, however, his captors returned and asked for his signed copy back. 10 days later they brought a different letter saying that he was being detained as a danger to security of Kosovo under the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. In other words, no proper charge was made.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 11:09:20 AM EST
Forbes has this AFX sourced story. This is the first non-Reuters, non-Le Monde piece I've seen. link. Nothing new here, but it shows that the British and American media are picking it up.

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz
by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 11:48:50 AM EST


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