More on the Athens abductions (part V)
/ investigations /
While the Greek government stands firm in its denial that nothing happened, or that if it did it knew anything about it, apparently there is an ongoing investigation regarding this matter (and the Uzbekistan documents) in Britain.
I received an email from a reader (who wished to remain unnamed) that informs me that:
...the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) is meeting tomorrow, Wednesday 11 January 2006.
One of the items on their agenda is the question of the lies told by Jack Straw to the FAC on two issues:
1. CIA flights landing in the UK - Jack Straw has denied that any CIA flights have landed in the UK. This has turned out to be untrue.
2. British Embassy Athens staff, including Nicholas Langman, involved in the interrogation of 28 Pakistanis in Athens - Jack Straw denied that any FCO staff were involved. This has also turned out to be untrue.
The reader has forwarded a response by the FAC's Chair, Mike Gapes, that states the following:
You ask two direct questions:
1. What can be done to ensure that action is taken against Mr Straw and that he does not lie in future? For example, would you please raise this issue at the next FAC meeting at which Mr Straw is present?
I will invite the Committee to consider Mr StrawÂs evidence in the light of the subsequent newspaper reports when it next meets, on 11 January.
2. From where can I obtain a) the truth about CIA flights which landed in the UK and b) the details of the interrogation and torture, by British Embassy staff, of 28 Pakistani citizens in Greece?
On (a) the Foreign Affairs Committee has been asking questions about the apparent use by US agencies of UK airspace and territory for the purposes of rendition for the last year, without obtaining satisfactory answers Â see, for example, paras 88 to 98 of its Report of last April, at www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmfaff/36/3607.htm#a14. As for (b), I understand from press reports that the Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP, is likely to be examining these allegations.
Meanwhile back in Greece, it looks like the way this will be handled is through threats and coercions. Kathimerini reports that:
Some of the 28 Pakistani migrants living in Athens that claim to have been abducted and tortured by security forces are allegedly coming under pressure from their embassy to withdraw the accusations in what has become a sensitive issue for both Greece and Pakistan.
In fact the Athens daily Eleftherotypia suggests that both bribery and intimidation are being used to "close" this uncomfortable for the government case:
"The Pakistani immigrants [who claim to have been abducted] are alleging threats regarding the extension of their visas and their legal status in Greece, as well as tempting bribes in order to revoke their initial testimonies regarding their secret interrogations...
Their lawyer... intends to file a complaint... denouncing the attempt to tamper with evidentiary material an naming the persons who have tried to convince his Pakistani clients to revoke their testimonies..."
In related news, the Greek police and anti-terrorist services, allegedly acting on a tip by US intelligence sources, have detained and questioned a number of Pakistanis, about possible terrorist attacks against US targets in Athens. At the same time a member of an anti-racist and civil liberties group in Athens was arrested and threatened by police officers. It doesn't take much imagination to view all this as part of an intimidation effort. Whether it will turn out to bsuccessfulul remains to be seen.