More than a quarter of the world's countries provided covert assistance to the United States in its extraordinary rendition programme in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks in 2001, including some branded by Washington at the time as rogue states, a human rights group has claimed.
Releasing the most comprehensive independent report yet into the programme, which saw terror suspects spirited to secret prisons around the globe without legal process, the New York-based Open Society Foundation said no fewer than 54 countries participated to varying degrees. Twenty five were in Europe, 14 in Asia and 13 in Africa. Australia and Canada assisted too.
The 216-page report comes on the eve of confirmation hearings tomorrow for John Brennan, nominee for CIA director. His own proximity to renditions while at the CIA during the Administration of President George W. Bush is certain to come under scrutiny.
Laid bare by the report, which is entitled "Globalising Torture", is the sheer scope of the programme. The group identifies 136 individuals who were targeted. They include Sami al-Saadi who was rendered to Libya with help from the British authorities.
America gladly accepted help from avowed opponents, the report reveals. They included Syria and Iran. The latter handed 15 suspects to Kabul shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Syria ended up being one of the "most common destinations for rendered suspects", the report asserts, an indication that ties between Washington and the regime of Bashar al-Assad were once tight. It was to a secret prison in Syria, for example, that the Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar was sent.
Debate about torture has been reignited by the film Zero Dark Thirty which implied that it helped lead the US to Osama Bin Laden. President Barack Obama denounced torture when he took office but declined to open an independent investigation into past activities.
A 6000-page study was recently completed for the Senate Intelligence Committee. It has not been made public.Independent