Last Updated Thu, 03 Nov 2005 09:34:40 EST
The European Commission plans to investigate reports that the CIA is running a secret prison system in Eastern Europe and using it to interrogate key al-Qaeda captives.
EU officials say they will informally question the European Union's 25 member nations.
"We have to find out what is exactly happening. We have all heard about this, then we have to see if it is confirmed," EU spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said Thursday.
"As far as the treatment of prisoners is concerned ... it is clear that all 25 member states having signed up to European Convention on Human Rights, and to the International Convention Against Torture, are due to respect and fully implement the obligations deriving from those treaties."
Abbing warned such prisons could violate EU human rights laws. But he also admitted the EU head office could not take action against member states if they are found to have violated human rights.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials have refused to confirm or deny the Washington Post report regarding the CIA-run prisons.
The paper reported that the Soviet-era style compounds are part of a covert prison system that has been run for nearly four years by the U.S. spy agency, as part of Washington's war on terrorism.
It said there are sites in at least eight countries, including Thailand and Afghanistan, as well as several democracies in Eastern Europe.
But the Post said it is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials.
They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.
The existence and locations of the facilities are known to only a handful of top officials in the U.S., according to the report.
No information is known about the facilities, including who is kept there, how decisions are made about the detainees and how long they are detained.
The secret detention system is said to have been conceived in the first months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Post said CIA officials have been increasingly debating the system, questioning the legality, morality and practicality of holding suspects in isolation and secrecy.
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