CIA renditions 'aided by 54 countries'

As many as 54 countries have been complicit in CIA's extraordinary rendition operations in which terrorism suspects were held in secret prisons overseas or turned over to foreign governments for interrogation, a human rights organisation has said in a report.

The report, released on Tuesday, claims that foreign governments in Europe, Asia and Africa have been secretly involved in global kidnap, detention and torture of at least 136 people on behalf of the United States after September 11, 2001 attacks.

"By engaging in torture and other abuses associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, the US government violated domestic and international law, thereby diminishing its moral standing and eroding support for its counterterrorism efforts worldwide as these abuses came to light," the report said.

The report by the Open Society Justice Initiative said its information was based on "credible public sources" and "reputable human rights organisations".

The CIA declined comment on the report.

The governments accused of helping the CIA programmes included some staunch US allies such as Australia, Israel, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Finland and Ireland, and some not usually viewed as US-friendly such as Iran and Syria.

The report said Tehran had transferred about 15 individuals to Afghanistan, which transferred them to the US government.

'Globalising Torture'

"Responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable."

While President Barack Obama after taking office in 2009 ordered the closing of secret CIA detention facilities, the
executive order "did not repudiate extraordinary rendition," the report said.

The New York-based rights group has called for the United States to end the controversial programme, close all secret prisons and investigate human rights violations that resulted from the practice.

The 256 page report, "Globalising Torture", comes ahead of the confirmation hearing of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday.

Internationally, OSJI wants other governments to end their involvement in the practice and take steps to ensure that counter-terrorism efforts do not violate human rights.

The countries allegedly participated in the CIA operations in various ways, including by hosting CIA prisons, helping capture and transport detainees, allowing the use of airspace and airports, providing intelligence and interrogating individuals, the report said.