The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday that it suspected the United States of hiding detainees in lockups around the globe.
Some suspected terrorists reported by the FBI as captured have never turned up in detention centers, and the United States has failed to reply to demands for a list of detainees, said Antonella Notari, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, which has been granted access to thousands of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere.
“These people are, as far as we can tell, detained in locations that are undisclosed not only to us, but also to the rest of the world,” Notari said.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said he was “looking further into” the agency’s concerns, but he did not acknowledge any problem.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Red Cross “has access to all Defense Department detention operations.”
Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba’s report on the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, however, found that military police there had “routinely held persons brought to them by other government agencies without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention.”
On at least one occasion, they moved these “ghost detainees” around the prison to hide them from a visiting Red Cross delegation, Taguba’s report said.
The U.S. says it has given Red Cross delegates access to prisoners in Afghanistan, at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Iraq.
Notari said that she had read media reports of prisoners being confined at Diego Garcia, a British island in the Indian Ocean that the U.S. uses as a military base, but that her agency had not been notified of inmates there.