BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - The CIA has conducted more than 1,000 clandestine flights in Europe since 2001, and some of them secretly took away terror suspects to countries where they could face torture, European Union lawmakers said Wednesday.
Legislators investigating allegations of questionable CIA activities in Europe said flight data showed a pattern of hidden operations by American agents, and they accused some European governments -- including Italy, Sweden and Bosnia-Herzegovina -- of knowing about it, but remaining silent. European human rights treaties prohibit sending suspects to states known to torture prisoners.

"The European Parliament deplores the fact that the CIA has on several occasions clearly been responsible for kidnapping and illegally detaining alleged terrorists on the territory of member states, as well for extraordinary renditions" to third countries, wrote Giovanni Fava of Italy, in a bluntly worded nine-page document. Fava, a Socialist member of the European Parliament, heads the committee.

The report, the first of several planned, grew out of three months of hearings and more than 50 hours of testimony by human rights advocates and individuals who said they had been kidnapped by U.S. agents and flown to other countries, including Egypt and Afghanistan, where they were tortured.

The CIA declined to comment, as did European Union officials, who have said there was no irrefutable proof of such hand-overs.

The report is likely to heighten trans-Atlantic tensions at a time when Europe and the United States are already at odds over how to balance civil liberties with the fight against terrorists.

The parliament has few powers to compel testimony or obtain documents but is scheduled to hold hearings throughout Europe this year. Today, the committee is scheduled to question authorities in Macedonia, where German citizen Khaled el-Masri said he was kidnapped by security officials in 2004, given to the CIA and taken to Afghanistan.

The panel also plans a hearing in Washington next month.

The inquiry began in January after the Washington Post reported that the CIA had interrogated Al-Qaida suspects at secret prisons in Eastern Europe.

The lawmakers based their initial report on data by Eurocontrol, the E.U.'s air safety agency, and more than 50 hours of testimony by E.U. officials, rights groups and individuals who said they were kidnapped and tortured by U.S. agents.

The report said that on a number of occasions the CIA was clearly responsible for detaining terror suspects on European territory and transferring them to countries where they could face torture.

Fava said that authorities in Europe were likely aware of the practice. He cited testimony by a senior Italian prosecutor, Armando Spataro, that a CIA team had abducted a suspect, Abu Omar, in 2003 in broad daylight before he was flown to Egypt.

Fava also criticized Sweden for handing over two Egyptian suspects, Muhammad al-Zary and Ahmed Agiza, to U.S. agents who flew them to Egypt in December 2001, after allegedly giving them suppositories and clothing them in diapers.

"Sweden has been criticized for this on a numerous occasions, and we have taken a number of steps in order for it not to happen again," said Barbro Holmberg, the minister for migration and asylum policy.

Eurocontrol said the number of clandestine CIA flights over Europe was likely to be higher than 1,000 because the agency checked only flight plans for fewer than 50 aircraft used by the CIA. Fava said the bulk of those flights passed through Germany and Spain. Neither government had any comment.

The New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press contributed to this report.