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Homeland Security

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, June 2, IRNA
UK-US Rendition
The US is operating "floating prisons" to detain those arrested in its war on terror, according to a British organization of human rights lawyers.

Reprieve, which was founded to provide frontline investigation and legal representation to prisoners denied justice, also claimed that there have been more than 200 new rendition cases since 2006, despite President George W Bush declaring the practice had stopped.

In a research due to be published this year, it suggested that as many as 17 ships has been used as "floating prisons" since 2001, the Guardian newspaper reported Monday.

Detainees were said to be interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, in a further attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Information about the operation of prison ships emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

It was suggested that the US may have used such ships as the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu and a further 15 ships, that were suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which the US uses as a military base.

The research includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantanamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate's story of detention on an amphibious assault ship with about 50 others.

"They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights," said Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director.

Staffor Smith added that even by its own admission, the US government is "currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons."
But he suggested information shows up to 80,000 have been 'through the system' since 2001.

"The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them," he said.

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, called for the US and UK governments to come clean over the holding of detainees.

"Little by little, the truth is coming out on extraordinary rendition. The rest will come, in time. Better for governments to be candid now, rather than later," Tyrie said.

The Liberal Democrat's foreign affairs spokesman, Edward Davey, was also concerned that if the Bush administration is using British territories to aid and abet illegal state abduction, it would "amount to a huge breach of trust with the British government."

"Ministers must make absolutely clear that they would not support such illegal activity, either directly or indirectly," Davey said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted in a statement to parliament in February that, despite previous assurances to the contrary, US rendition flights had twice landed on Diego Garcia and added he had asked for a list of all alleged flights to be compiled.


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