Alleged torture of terror suspects by CIA: Van Bommel demands explanation

16 November 2007

Alleged torture of terror suspects by CIA: Van Bommel demands explanation

SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel is demanding an explanation from the government regarding reports that in 2003 in Egypt the US Central Intelligence Agency were responsible for a suspected terrorist being subjected to torture. Information extracted through this torture was used by the United States as one pretext for the invasion of Iraq, which was supported by the Dutch government.

According to the American media in 2004 the CIA admitted in a telegram that terrorist suspect Ibn al Sheikh al-libi had been tortured, having a year earlier been taken to an Egyptian prison for this purpose. Amongst other tortures, the suspect was kept in a crate measuring 50cms by 50 cms (about 19" by 19") during seventeen hours, after which he was beaten for fifteen minutes.

Under torture, Al-Libi "confessed" that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaida. Colin Powell, at the time US Secretary of State, presented this information as part of the justification for an attack on Iraq. It has since come to light, however, that there was in reality absolutely no evidence of any connection between Saddam and Al Qaida.

Van Bommel is looking to foreign minister Maxime Verhagen for an explanation as to whether the government was aware of the fact that CIA was practising torture and whether he is prepared to raise the matter with the United States. “This is of course completely unacceptable and, moreover, counterproductive. After all, people are likely under the pressure of torture to provide 'evidence' of things which simply aren't true," he says.

The SP Member of Parliament will also ask the minister whether a recently surfaced handbook on the treatment of Guantanamo Bay continues to serve as a guideline in the prison camp. Amongst other instructions, the book states that prisoners must be given no contact with the Red Cross.

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