US holds terror suspects on prison ships: UK rights group

[JURIST] The US has held terror detainees on roving prison ships [press release] in an effort to hide them from media scrutiny and legal watchdogs, UK prison rights group Reprieve [advocacy website] alleged Monday. According to Reprieve, it is suspected that the USS Bataan, the USS Peleliu [official websites] and at least 15 other ships have housed detainees, though it is not clear exactly how many ships are involved in the effort. Reprieve said that detainees are often interrogated aboard ship before being moved to secret locations in foreign countries. A US navy spokesman denied that any detainees were kept on ships beyond the "few days" necessary for transportation, in some cases. Reprieve also said it had found 200 new cases of extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] since 2006 and plans to release a full report later this year. AP has more. SBS has additional coverage.

In 2005, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak spoke of allegations that the US was secretly detaining prisoners [JURIST report] aboard military vessels at the US naval base on Diego Garcia, where the US leases land from the UK. Late last year, the UK House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee said it would investigate the allegations [JURIST report]. In February, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband said that two US planes landed on Diego Garcia in 2002 [JURIST report] to refuel during extraordinary rendition flights. US CIA Director Michael Hayden [official profile] also admitted [text; AP report] that the two flights landed on British territory, saying that the information was discovered in late 2007 after the CIA reviewed records on the renditions.

 

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