Ex-president denies confirming existence of CIA prison in Romania



Romania's former President Ion Iliescu on Monday firmly denied that he had confirmed the existence of a CIA secret prison in his country in his recent interview given to a German magazine.

"I want to be as clear as possible: in no way have I confirmed the existence of an illegal CIA prison in Romania, a prison where illegal interrogation techniques such as torture would have been used," Iliescu stressed in a post on his blog.

The former president said that he was "unpleasantly surprised" by the way in which his statements in a recent interview to German publication Der Spiegel are being reflected and especially commented on.

According to media reports, Iliescu stated in his interview with Der Spiegel that he approved in principle in the period 2002- 2003 a request of the United States on the creation of a CIA centre in Romania, without knowing however that it involved a detention unit.

"I thought it was an accommodating gesture before we joined NATO," Iliescu was quoted as saying, adding that Ioan Talpes, head of the presidential administration at that time, handled the details.

"I was equally clear when I said that had I known the destination of the facility asked of us by the United States, I would have certainly taken a different decision," Iliescu said on Monday in his blog, adding that "knowing what I had approved, namely headquarters for a CIA representation office in Romania, justifies the fact that all these years I have denied the existence of any CIA prison in Romania."

"Romania cannot deny having accepted a request from the CIA, but there is a long way from that to saying we knew what was happening there, that we knew about alleged torture and cruelty acts. I refuse to take that way," said Iliescu, who served his last term of office as president from 2000 to 2004.

"If rules were violated at the CIA facilities in Romania back then, let that be said and proceed accordingly," he also said.

"I am firmly rejecting the interpretation of my gesture, which is a natural one among partners and allies, would have been my bribing the U.S. into NATO welcoming Romania in," he underlined.

Authorities in Bucharest have repeatedly denied the existence in the country of CIA secret prison or the presence of detainees held by U.S. authorities. Enditem