US holding at least 39 detainees in secret prisons: rights groups News
US holding at least 39 detainees in secret prisons: rights groups

[JURIST] At least 39 "ghost detainees" [press release, PDF] have been held by the US CIA in secret detention facilities, according to a report [PDF text; executive summary, PDF] jointly published Thursday by six leading human rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and Human Rights Watch. The report specifically identifies three detainees, Pakistani Hassan Ghul, Saudi Ali Abu al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, and Libyan Ali Abdul-Hamid al-Fakhiri, whose detention by the United States has been "officially acknowledged" but whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. Ghul and al-Fakhiri are believed to have been held at a CIA-operated secret detention facility in Poland [JURIST report]. All three detainees were included in the "Terrorists No Longer a Threat" List [transcript] that was read into the US Congressional Record last July.

The report also highlighted the detention of family members, including children of detained suspected terrorists, some of whom have been subjected to "coercive treatment" to further the purpose of obtaining information about detainees. One instance cited was the detention and interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed's two sons, Yusef al-Khalid and Abed al-Khalid, then nine and seven-years old. The children's detention was confirmed [Daily Telegraph report] by a CIA official in 2003, who said that their detention and the "promise of their release and their return to Pakistan" was a "psychological lever" to be used against Khalid Sheik Mohammed [BBC profile; CSRT transcript, PDF].

The rights groups urged [press release] the US to end its "silence" on the so-called "ghost detainees," and reiterated that the US has a duty to "detain and bring to justice" criminals "in a manner that respects human rights and the rule of law." The report also calls for the US and foreign states that allow the US to base secret detention facilities within their borders to grant access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] and either promptly charge the detainees with a "recognizable criminal offense" and bring them to trial before a court that meets international standards or release them. In February, the European Parliament condemned European states [JURIST report] – including Austria, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia, and Romania for their cooperation in illegal secret prisons and extraordinary rendition flights [JURIST report]. Several states were also accused of obstructing European probes into the secret prison allegations, including Poland [JURIST report], which allegedly housed the largest CIA secret detention facility in Europe [JURIST report]. President Bush acknowledged the existence of the secret CIA facilities [JURIST report] last September, but provided no details on their location or operation. AP has more.