Thailand denies existence of CIA black site

Thailand denies existence of CIA black site

BANGKOK - A senior Thai official on Thursday (Dec 11) flatly rejected longstanding claims the kingdom hosted a secret CIA prison after the publication of a US Senate report this week reignited controversy over Washington's "black site" network.

Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York.

But Suwaphan Tanyuvardhan, a minister in the Prime Minister's Office, rejected any suggestions that the Thai government had been complicit in running any "black sites". "There has been no such thing as a secret prison or torture facilities in Thailand. Thai officials do not do these kind of actions," he told reporters.

Rights groups have repeatedly said "black sites" were located in the kingdom as well as in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, though the Senate report made no reference to Thailand hosting any prisons.

The long-awaited and heavily redacted Senate report, released on Tuesday, said the CIA's interrogation programme was far more brutal than previously acknowledged. On Wednesday, Poland's former president publicly acknowledged for the first time that his country did host a secret CIA prison.

The Senate report offered a damning indictment of the CIA's secret programme, saying torture did not produce substantially useful intelligence. Detainees were beaten, waterboarded - some of them dozens of times - and humiliated through the painful use of medically unnecessary "rectal feeding" and "rectal rehydration", the report found.

The findings are a source of embarrassment for many of Washington's allies who cooperated with the US in their hunt for Al-Qaeda operatives.

Lt Gen Nantadej Meksawat, a retired intelligence officer, said Thailand cooperated with US officials but denied running prisons. "Since the World Trade Center attacks, the US made several operations to arrest Al-Qaeda operatives in several countries including Indonesia and Thailand," he told reporters.

The Senate report did refer to senior Al-Qaeda operative Hanbali, an Indonesian-born militant, who was seized in a US-Thai operation in 2003. He remains incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

Libyan national Abdul-Hakim Belhaj also claims he was detained by US intelligence officers at Bangkok airport in Thailand in 2004 and returned to his homeland which was run by Muammar Gadaffi at the time. Belhaj was a member of the the anti-Gadaffi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and says he was tortured and imprisoned on his return. He is now a prominent Libyan politician.

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