BERLIN - The German Government was yesterday alleged to have received first-hand evidence that the CIA had begun torturing terrorist suspects at secret prisons in Europe shortly after the September 11 attacks despite claims that it only knew about such sites through the media.
Stern magazine quoted a leaked German intelligence report which said that only weeks after September 11, two of its agents and a translator had visited a United States military prison at the American "Eagle Base" in the Bosnian town of Tuzla, where they witnessed a torture victim.
The German intelligence report said US interrogators at the base had beaten a 70-year-old terrorist suspect with rifle butts and that "his injuries meant that he had to be given 20 stitches to the head wound he sustained". The report added the American interrogator responsible "appeared to be proud" of his actions.
Stern said the German agents had also been given access to documents confiscated by the Americans which were "smeared with blood". One agent was said to have compared the actions of the US interrogators to Serbian war criminals during the break up of Yugoslavia. "The Serbs ended up before the international court in the Hague for this kind of thing."
The two German agents and their translator had been asked to appear at the base to assist the Americans in interrogating suspects and to help evaluate confiscated material. However, according to the leaked report, they informed Germany's Federal Prosecutor of what they had witnessed and left the base shortly afterwards.
Stern's report appeared to contradict the Government's claims that it had only been made aware of the possible existence of secret CIA interrogation centres in Europe through media reports.