LUXEMBOURG The word of anonymous witnesses is not enough to prove that the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania, the European Union's top security official said in an interview.
But Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini told Reuters late on Tuesday he would seek further clarification from both countries after Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty said last week he was certain they had hosted such jails.
Marty said he had proof of the long-standing allegations against Poland and Romania, but was unable to reveal the U.S. and European intelligence sources who had spoken to him on condition of anonymity.
"We could not accept at all unknown witnesses talking about secret prisons," Frattini said.
"That said, we will make an evaluation, of course. After that I will contact my colleagues, the ministers in the countries concerned, to ask for clarifications, even after the declaration of unknown witnesses," he added.
The stakes are high for Poland and Romania. Both countries have repeated earlier denials that they had hosted CIA prisons.
Frattini said in November 2005 that if reports of secret CIA prisons in Europe were true, states would face serious consequences including the possible suspension of their EU voting rights.
According to Marty, top terrorism suspects were held at the alleged Polish and Romanian sites and subjected by the CIA to aggressive interrogation techniques amounting to torture.
President George W. Bush has acknowledged secret CIA prisons existed, but has not disclosed where.
Diplomats and politicians say EU members have little appetite to probe deeper into the accusations against Poland and Romania, partly since Marty has also criticized other states like Germany and Italy.
In an initial report in June 2006, he said 20 countries, mostly in Europe, had colluded in a "global spider's web" of CIA jails and secret prisoner transfers, known as renditions.
A European Parliament report backed the allegations this year, saying EU governments had accepted and concealed secret U.S. flights carrying terrorism suspects across Europe.
Frattini's spokesman urged Poland and Romania last week to hold urgent, independent investigations and ensure victims were compensated.