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Thursday
Dec012005

Clandestine U.S. Detention Centres

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Witch hunt
Friday December 2
Paris

Things are hotting up on the illegal U.S. Detention Centres story. U.K. Foreign Minister Jack Straw is asking for a "please explain" on detainees allegedly being transported through U.K. airports.

From the Sydney Morning Herald - "More than 300 flights operated by the CIA have landed at European airports.

Flight logs show that Germany and Britain were the main transit hubs for the CIA, which is alleged to have a network of interrogation centres in Eastern Europe.

Several European governments have begun investigations into whether clandestine CIA flights were used in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, to transfer prisoners to third countries where they could be interrogated beyond the reach of international obligations.

The allegations have provoked a furore in Europe. The US has so far refused to confirm or deny the reports. But on Tuesday the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, told Germany's new Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the US Administration would respond. Dr Rice is likely to come under further pressure when she visits Europe next week.

A survey by The Guardian of flight logs taken from 26 CIA aircraft reveals a far higher level of activity than previously known. CIA-owned planes visited Germany 96 times, and Britain 80 times, although with charter flights the figure rises to more than 200. France was visited just twice, according to the logs, which also reveal regular trips to Eastern Europe, including 15 visits to Prague.

Only one visit is recorded to the Szymany air base in north-east Poland, which has been identified as the alleged site of a secret CIA jail. Poland and Romania have denied hosting CIA prisons."

"Human Rights Watch emphasizes that there is no doubt that secret detention facilities operated by the United States exist. The Bush Administration has cited, in speeches and in public documents, arrests of several terrorist suspects now held in unknown locations. Some of the detainees cited by the administration include: Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian arrested in Pakistan in March 2002; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, arrested in September 2002; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (also known as Abu Bilal al-Makki), arrested in United Arab Emirates in November 2002; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, arrested in Pakistan in March 2003 along with Mustafa al-Hawsawi; and Hambali (aka Riduan Isamuddin) arrested in Thailand in August 2003.

Human Rights Watch urges the United Nations and relevant European Union bodies to launch investigations to determine which countries have been or are being used by the United States for transiting and detaining incommunicado prisoners. The U.S. Congress should also convene hearings on the allegations and demand that the Bush administration account for secret detainees, explain the legal basis for their continued detention, and make arrangements to screen detainees to determine their legal status under domestic and international law. We welcome the decision by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to examine the existence of U.S.-run detention centers in Council of Europe member states. We also urge the European Union, including the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, to further investigate allegations and publish its findings."

More HERE

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