Romanian ex-spy chief acknowledges CIA had ‘black prisons’ in country
Ioan Talpes, who led SIE agency, says Bucharest cooperated but ‘took no interest’ in sites as country was trying to join Nato
A top official from Romania has for the first time confirmed that the CIA had “at least” one prison in the country.
Ioan Talpes, the former head of the country’s intelligence service said the CIA had “centres” in Romania, including a transit camp or compound, where prisoners were kept before being moved to other locations. He is the first Romanian official to confirm the information in the CIA torture report last week, which stated the existence of at least one “black site” in which prisoners were held and probably tortured.
Successive governments have spent years denying the rumours, even after last week’s US Senate report said there had been a CIA prison in Romania.
Talpes said the transit camp was set up following detailed discussions with Romanian authorities. He told Germany’s Spiegel Online there was one, possibly two locations in the country in which “it is probably that people were imprisoned, and treated in an inhumane manner” between 2003 and 2006.
Talpes, 70, was head of Romania’s foreign intelligence service, SIE, between 1992 and 1997 and for four years until 2004, was head of the president’s office with responsibility for national security.
He told the German news site that he had continuous discussions with CIA and US military officials about closer cooperation between them and Romania. The main tenet of the conversations was always about giving the CIA the ability to carry out its own activities, he added.
But he denied knowing where the CIA centres had been or that torture had been carried out in them, and said Romania had “explicitly taken no interest in knowing what the CIA did there”.
His country had been particularly keen at the beginning of negotiations to prove its willingness to cooperate in the hope that it would help it to achieve Nato membership. Romania joined Nato in March 2004. “It was the Americans’ business what they did in these places,” Talpes said.
Dick Marty, who was appointed by the Council of Europe to investigate alleged illegal CIA activities in Europe, accused Romania in 2005 of hosting CIA prisons for terrorist suspects. The accusations were repeated by Amnesty International. The 9/11 chief planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the prisoners believed to have been held in Romania.
Romania’s former president Ion Illiescu said this week he had no knowledge of the CIA prisons. However Talpes said he had informed Illiescu himself in 2003 and 2004 that the Americans were carrying out “certain activities” on Romanian soil.
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