04-06-2006, 06:14 PM
The CIA secretly used private aircraft firms and front companies to transfer foreign suspects to secret prisons in violation of international law, Amnesty International said in a report, according to CNN.Reply
In the report, titled "Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and 'disappearance,'" the human rights group accused the CIA of using the practice of “extraordinary rendition“; under which foreign suspects are flown to third countries without legal process.
"The U.S. administration has tried to circumvent the ban on torture and other ill-treatment in many ways. The latest evidence shows how the administration is manipulating commercial arrangements in order to be able to transfer people in violation of international law," said Irene Khan, secretary-general of Amnesty International.
"It demonstrates the length to which the U.S. government will go to conceal these abductions," she said.
Amnesty said it has records of about 1,000 flights directly linked to the CIA, most of which used European airspace. "These are flights by planes that appear to have been permanently operated by the CIA through front companies," the group said.
Moreover, there are records of at least 600 other flights made by planes confirmed as having been used at least temporarily by the CIA, the report said.
The report also includes the destinations and ownerships of planes that were used to illegally transfer suspects who were interviewed by Amnesty International.
The organizations said one plane made at least 100 stops in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. holds more than 500 foreign suspects.
It also said that three newly freed Yemeni citizens believed they were taken by U.S. authorities to secret detention centers following lengthy journeys through different climates and time zones.
According to Amnesty, the accounts given by the men, who were blindfolded during each flight, indicated they may have been detained in Djibouti in eastern Africa, Afghanistan and eastern Europe.
The Council of Europe, which monitors human rights, and a European Parliament committee are both investigating a report by the Washington Post last year that the CIA ran secret prisons in Eastern Europe.
European countries have denied hosting such facilities and Washington has refused to comment on the report.
Amnesty researcher Anne FitzGerald said she believed the new findings were significant. She said two of the Yemeni detainees had told her they believed they had been detained in Europe when she interviewed them in a Yemeni jail last September.
"At the time, no one had ever mentioned the possibility of secret detention in Europe," she told Reuters. "When the reports from the Washington Post came out in November, it immediately struck me that perhaps these guys were right."
The United States has admitted using the practice of “extraordinary renditions” as a tool in the “war on terror”, but claimed that it has never handed over suspects to countries that condone torture.
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