While browsing around ArabNews.com looking for anything at all about the helicopter that was downed in Afghanistan, I was startled by this headline..

US Holding Prisoners on Warships: UN Official

VIENNA, 29 June 2005 — The UN has learned of “very, very serious” allegations that the United States is secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around the world, notably aboard prison ships, the UN’s special rapporteur on terrorism said yesterday.

The article goes on to mention that the accusations are at this point, merely ‘rumors’, but the UN, seriously stymied at the moment in efforts to launch an inquiry into Guantanamo, is interested in investigating.

The use of prison ships would allow investigators to interrogate people secretly and in international waters out of the reach of US law, British security expert Francis Tusa said.

“This opens the door to very tough interrogations on key prisoners before it even has been revealed that they have been captured,” said Tusa, an editor for the British magazine Jane’s Intelligence Review.

To be honest with you, I don’t know if I’ve heard anything about prison ships before or not – sometimes the horrors just pile up and blur together into an incomprehensible mess for me. But I’m guessing that the UN taking an interest in floating Guantanamos is relatively new news… so I googled.

The BBC ran a brief article yesterday,

US faces prison ship allegations

Um… that kind of sealed it for me, not exactly ‘lies and unfounded propaganda’ from that arab ‘enemy’.

The United Nations says it has learned of serious allegations that the US is secretly detaining terrorism suspects, notably on American military ships.

He told the BBC there were a number of allegations from reliable sources that the US was holding terrorist suspects in secret places of detention, including vessels abroad.

He said that according to the reports, the ships were believed to be in the Indian Ocean.

The LA Times has something this morning – titled “Expert: UN Seeks US Detention Centers” – but I don’t have a registration. Anyone care to dig that up for me?

That’s really all I’ve found at this point. Has anyone else heard anything about this? Is this old news, has it already been covered somewhere?

Update: The San Jose Mercury News has picked it up.

U.N. human rights experts have begun an investigation into U.S. detention facilities for terrorist suspects and allegations that there are secret prisons, one of the project leaders said Wednesday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N.’s special expert on torture, said some undeclared holding areas could include U.S. Navy ships in international waters. He said there were “serious” allegations to that effect from Amnesty International and other non-governmental human rights groups.


Nowak said he and three fellow experts decided last week to launch the inquiry without waiting for assurances of U.S. cooperation after holding off for more than three years in hopes Washington would give members access to Guantanamo Bay and other facilities holding suspected terrorists.


Nowak said team members had begun interviewing former suspects held and subsequently released by U.S. authorities in efforts to establish conditions in the prisons and their exact locations.

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