Ethiopia secret prisons under scrutiny

Ethiopia was under pressure to release details on detainees from 19 countries held at secret prisons in the country where U.S. agents have carried out interrogations in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia secret prisons under scrutiny

Ethiopiawas under pressure to release details on detainees from 19 countries held atsecret prisons in the country where U.S. agents have carried outinterrogations in the Horn of Africa.

Canada, Eritrea and Sweden were lobbying forinformation about their citizens. Human rights groups say hundreds ofprisoners, including women and children, have been transferred secretly andillegally to the prisons in Ethiopia.An investigation by The Associated Press found that CIA and FBI agents havebeen interrogating the detainees.

Officials from Ethiopiawere not immediately available for comment, but in the past have refused toacknowledge the existence of the prisons.

Ethiopiahas a long history of human rights abuses. In recent years, it has also been akey in the fight against al-Qaida it clams in the Horn of Africa.

Canadian citizen Bashir Makhtal is among the detainees, Canadian authoritiessaid.

"We know that he is in Ethiopia,"Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesman Rejean Beaulieu said. "We've beenmaking, and continue to make, representations both here in Ottawaand in Ethiopiato get access to him," Beaulieu said.

They are kept without charge or access to lawyers and families.

The CIA began an aggressive program in 2002 to interrogate suspects at anunknown number of secret locations from Southeast Asia to Europe.Prisoners were frequently picked up in one country and transferred to a prisonin another, where they were held incommunicado by a cooperative intelligenceservice. But US Bushannounced in September that all the detainees had been moved to militarycustody at the U.S. navalbase in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

U.S. government officialscontacted by AP have acknowledged questioning prisoners in Ethiopia. Butthey insisted American agents were following the law and were fully justifiedin their actions because they are investigating past attacks and currentthreats of terrorism.

The detainees include at least one U.S.citizen and some from Canada,Sweden and France,according to a list compiled by a Kenyan Muslim rights group and flightmanifests obtained by AP. They also include citizens from Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania,Rwanda, Tunisia and Morocco.

Eritrea is asking Kenyanauthorities for details on three of its citizens, handed over to Somalia on Jan.20. Human rights groups say they are in Ethiopia.

"At this juncture, the Government of Eritrea again calls on the Kenyanauthorities to get the three Eritrean citizens released at the earliest andrepatriate them to their country," according to a statement by Eritrea'sInformation Ministry. "Furthermore, it reminds the Kenyan authorities thatthe responsibility for the lives of the Eritrean citizens rests on them."

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the government had no commentto make until it received an official communication from the Eritreangovernment.

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nina Ersman said they had managed togain access to its nationals still being detained, including two Swedishcitizens and one who holds a permanent residence permit.

"We have visited them, but not in recent days," she told the AP.She said she did not know the dates of the visit.

Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer at the BrennanCenter for Justice at the New YorkUniversity School of Law who has been assisting the family of a detained U.S. citizen,24-year-old Amir Mohamed Meshal, said he had still not spoken to him.

The State Department said late Wednesday that a U.S. Embassy official made athird visit to Meshal on Wednesday.

In a message passed from the official to his parents, Amir Meshal asked hisfamily to be "patient."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16