BRUSSELS - Dissident U.S. intelligence officers angry at former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped a European probe uncover details of secret CIA prisons in Europe, the top investigator said on Tuesday.
Swiss Senator Dick Marty, author of a Council of Europe report on the jails, said senior CIA officials disapproved of Rumsfeld's methods in hunting down terrorist suspects, and had agreed to talk to him on condition of anonymity.
"There were huge conflicts between the CIA and Rumsfeld. Many leading figures in the CIA did not accept these methods at all," Marty told European Parliament committees, defending his work against complaints it was based on unnamed sources.
The report issued last month said the Central Intelligence Agency ran secret jails in Poland and Romania, with the complicity of those governments, and transported terrorist suspects across Europe in secret flights.
Poland and Romania have repeatedly denied hosting CIA prisons on their soil.
"People in the CIA felt these things were not consonant with the sort of intelligence work they normally do," Marty said.
He said he had based his findings largely on conversations with "high officials of the CIA (and) highly placed European office-holders, who for different reasons, often honorable reasons, were ready to explain what had happened".
Since he had no power to summon witnesses, subpoena documents or search buildings, he was forced to rely on such evidence, Marty said.
"The Americans themselves admitted there were secret prisons, that they abducted people from the streets, that people were handed over to countries like Syria, Yemen, Egypt where they were tortured," he said.
U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged last year that the CIA had held top al Qaeda suspects in secret overseas detention centers but did not say in which countries.
"The president of United States made a very important statement..., I think we can all expect ... in the near future further admissions," said Marty.
He also said he would not remove name of former Polish and Romanian government officials from the report, although they threatened on Tuesday to take legal action against the senator.
The report said former Polish national security adviser Marek Siwiec and former Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Pascu knew their countries had hosted secret CIA detention centers.
"I have no reason to withdraw his name. I would certainly not be prepared to apologies. He knew exactly what was happening as did his president," Marty told a news conference, referring to Siwiec and former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
"I am not shaking in my shoes," he said of the libel suit that Siwiec vowed to launch in a Polish court unless Marty removed his name from the report within seven days.
Pascu challenged Marty in the hearing to substantiate his allegations or withdraw them, but the Swiss legislator did not respond directly.
© Reuters 2007.