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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
CIA 'halts interrogation tactics'
Abu Ghraib jail
The US has been criticised for its treatment of terror suspects
The CIA has halted harsh interrogation techniques approved by the White House pending a review by the justice department, a US newspaper reports.

The Washington Post said the techniques - including feigned drowning, denial of pain medication and sleep deprivation - had been used on al-Qaeda suspects.

An unnamed official was quoted as saying the tactics were on hold while checks were made on their legality.

The move follows the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.

The White House said on Tuesday it was reviewing a justice department memo from August 2002 that detailed how to avoid violating US and international laws when interrogating prisoners.

Agency 'concern'

The CIA's decision to suspend what it calls "enhanced interrogation techniques" applies to the agency's facilities around the world and not military prisons such as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the Post said.

It added that current and former CIA officers said the decision reflected the agency's concern about being accused of unsanctioned and illegal activities.

"Everything's on hold," it quoted one former senior official as saying. "The whole thing has been stopped until we sort out whether we are sure we're on legal ground."

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the issue.

The Washington Post reported that, although the White House said the justice department memo was written by a small group of lawyers, administration officials admitted it had been vetted by the National Security Council, the White House counsel's office and Vice-President Dick Cheney's office among others.

It is the latest fallout of the scandal over abuse of prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

People working for the CIA have been accused of involvement in the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan.

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