It seems the Secretary of State is in for a rough European trip this week. Condoleezza Rice arrived in Germany this afternoon during a continent-wide uproar over news reports that the CIA was running secret European prisons, where terror suspects were interrogated using illegal torture techniques. While Secretary Rice today condemned the use of torture, she did not deny the existence of the prisons. And tonight, ABC's Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross has learned exclusive information about those prisons and what was going on inside.
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS
ABC News has been able to identify the two countries in Eastern Europe where there have been secret CIA prisons. But the CIA has asked us not to report the names of those countries, citing security concerns.
CIA sources tell ABC News that by the time Secretary Rice arrived in Europe on Monday, the CIA's secret prisons in Europe had been emptied, and the al Qaeda suspects sent to North Africa. At issue are these eight top al Qaeda leaders and three others who have been held in two different Eastern European countries, subject to the CIA's harshest interrogation techniques with no access to lawyers or due process.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE
The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice, which were designed for different needs. We have to adapt.
Human rights groups have named Poland and this military airbase, along with Romania, as two of the places where CIA planes have landed. Polish TV reports that a former employee here saw numerous private jets last year matching the description of the planes used by the CIA to secretly transport terror suspects around the world. But the Polish minister of defense denied any secret prisons in his country.
RADOSLAW SIKORSKI, DEFENSE MINISTER OF POLAND
The President of Poland has said that there is no truth to these reports.
Do you accept that, sir?
Of course, he's my President.
Human Rights Watch also has cited this Romanian military post as the possible location of the second CIA secret prison. Romania has close ties with the US. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld visited the base last year, and this year, the Romanian President visited the White House. On Monday, the Romanian Prime Minister denied there were any CIA prisons in his country.
CALIN TARICEANU, PRIME MINISTER OF ROMANIA
There is no evidence concerning either prisons or flights belonging to the CIA in Romania.
JOHN SIFTON, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
It's entirely possible for a Polish or Romanian official to say, "I didn't know about this," and be telling the truth because it was the last government involved. That's one problem. The second problem is that it's likely that only a handful of people in these countries actually knew about the programs.
What concerns human rights groups is the secrecy of the prisons and the CIA's secret interrogation techniques. Six increasingly harsh techniques approved by the CIA after a presidential finding that they were not torture.
Terrorist suspects should be interrogated. They should be prosecuted and held accountable for the crimes they are alleged to have committed. But they need to be held in accordance with the law. They can't be held in secret prisons where nobody has any oversight, or nobody knows whether they are guilty or innocent or who they are.
There's no better example of that than the German citizen Khalid el-Masri. He was arrested as he crossed the border in Macedonia on vacation in 2003 and then was secretly flown by the CIA to one of its prisons outside Kabul, Afghanistan for interrogation.
He was not involved in any way?
Tomorrow morning the ACLU is filing a case, suing the CIA and former director George Tenet. The allegations are, they got the wrong guy, he was mistreated. There is an el-Masri who is a terrorist suspect. But it isn't this el-Masri.
They got the wrong el-Masri?
They got the wrong man.
El-Masri has since told German television that he was drugged, stripped naked and interrogated by Americans who wanted to know his ties to al Qaeda.
KHALID EL-MASRI, FORMER PRISONER
He said, "You are here in a land where there are no laws. No one knows about you or where you are. Do you know what I mean?" I said, "Yes."
El-Masri was later set free, flown to Albania and left off on a roadside.
This is one of several cases involving kidnappings by the CIA in Europe. Several people have been kidnapped straight out of the streets of Europe and sent to detention abroad. Whether it's in Afghanistan, some have been sent to Egypt. It's very serious.
Secretary of State Rice made it clear that she is in no mood to hear the protest of European countries over US tactics in the war on terror.
Cooperation is a two-way street. We share intelligence that has helped protect European countries from attack, helping save European lives.
Today's remarks were thinly veiled bullying, where Secretary Rice and the Administration at large was saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Other countries, Germany, Italy, have taken part in this, which is part of why Secretary Rice is suggesting that they watch what they say because they themselves may be guilty.
El-Masri, the German citizen who was subjected to the CIA's secret prisons, interrogations and planes was planning to be in New York tomorrow when the ACLU announces its lawsuit on his behalf. But he won't be here. He was denied admission into the country this weekend by US officials in Atlanta, who sent him back to Germany.