A human rights group said Tuesday that the CIA transferred at least 14 terror suspects to Jordan for interrogation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Human Rights Watch said in a new report that the U.S. ally in the Mideast served as a proxy jailer for the CIA until at least 2004.
"The Bush administration claims that it has not transferred people to foreign custody for abusive interrogation," said Joanne Mariner, the group's terrorism and counterterrorism director. "But we've documented more than a dozen cases in which prisoners were sent to Jordan for torture."
It said its 36-page report was based mainly on information from former Jordanian prisoners who had been detained with non-Jordanian terrorism suspects.
Allegations of torture
The group charged that Jordan commonly tortured suspects with extended beatings on the soles of their feet.
But Jordan's State Minister for Information Nasser Judeh called the findings "baseless and untrue," the official Petra news agency reported.
The CIA declined to comment on the report, with spokesman Paul Gimigliano saying that "the agency does not, as a rule, comment publicly on allegations of specific rendition activities." But he defended renditions as a "lawful, valuable tool."
"They have been used for years to take terrorists off the streets," he said. "The United States does not transport individuals for the purpose of torture, and has no interest in any process that would produce bad intelligence."
U.S. officials have acknowledged flying up to 150 of the most serious suspected terrorists secretly from one country to another, but have said they received diplomatic assurances from foreign authorities that they would not be tortured.
"No other country is believed to have held as many as Jordan," New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
While there have been general allegations that Jordan cooperated with the covert operations, along with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Tuesday's report, if confirmed, would be the most detailed account yet of the extent of Jordanian involvement.
Human Rights Watch said at least five Yemenis, three Algerians, two Saudis, a Mauritanian, a Syrian, a Tunisian, and one or more Chechens from Russia were rendered to Jordan. Five of them are now in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it said.