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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Jordan denies 'secret US prison'
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in March of last year
Jordan has strongly denied an Israeli newspaper report that senior al-Qaeda suspects are being held at a secret US interrogation facility in the country.

Speaking to Israeli reporters, Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said he "categorically denied" the report and demanded to see proof of the claims.

Haaretz said about 11 top al-Qaeda men were being held in Jordan.

The facility allowed the CIA to use interrogation techniques banned in the US, Haaretz said.

The CIA declined to comment on the report when contacted by BBC News Online.

Haaretz said detainees held at the base included former al-Qaeda military leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, recruitment head Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi bin al-Shibh - a former roommate of 11 suicide airline hijacker Mohammed Atta.

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Hambali, a Thai suspect thought to have links to al-Qaeda is also held there, the report says.

Since the war in Afghanistan three years ago, the majority of people deemed enemy combatants have been transferred to a US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

However, a minority were taken to Pakistan and from there moved to Jordan, Haaretz said.

A Jordanian official quoted by Reuters said it was not the first time such allegations had been made which "seek to undermine the country's favourable human rights image abroad".

Violation

The Haaretz report follows a Human Rights Watch report that said 11 al-Qaeda suspects were being denied access to the International Red Cross and protection under international law, and suggested that torture had been used.

I think the US demeans itself when it adopts the philosophy that the ends justify the means in the fight against terror
Reed Brody
Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, which based its 46-page report largely on news reports, acknowledged the need to bring terror suspects to justice but questioned the legality of the detainees' treatment.

HRW highlights a number of areas in which the US appears to be violating international legal standards:

  • International treaties ratified by the US prohibit holding prisoners incommunicado and in secret locations

  • The Geneva Conventions require that the International Committee of the Red Cross has access to all detainees and that information on them be provided to their relatives

  • Under international human rights law, detainees must be held in recognised places of detention and be able to communicate with lawyers and family members

The US argues that al-Qaeda members are not entitled to the protection of Geneva conventions because they are not lawful combatants. The Pentagon says the "spirit" of the conventions is respected at the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.


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