Belgium criticizes U.S. cover-up of secret prisons

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht has voiced concern that the affair surrounding the secret CIA prisons of the United States would have a negative effect on transatlantic relations, Belgian press agency Belga reported Saturday.

"The Americans have concealed the truth (from their allies) and this kind of behavior is not acceptable in a democracy," said De Gucht in an interview with Belga.

The United States admitted for the first time on Wednesday that the secret prison camps existed and were used to hold al-Qaida suspects.

U.S. President George W. Bush said in a televised speech that 14 top terrorist suspects would be transferred from the CIA facilities to the Guantanamo Bay camp to face military tribunals if the U.S. Congress approves.

De Gucht considered the U.S. President's account of CIA methods and the treatment of prisoners as "unacceptable."

It wasn't a surprising admission. "The top American civil servant (U.S. State Department's legal adviser) John B. Bellinger admitting that the International Red Cross had been denied access to terror suspects, was also an implicit admission that the secret jails existed," he explained.

De Gucht has asked the Polish and Romanian governments for an explanation at a recent meeting of EU foreign ministers.

"Moreover, I was the only one of the 25 EU foreign ministers at the meeting to do so," he added.

Bush's admission has triggered a wave of reactions from European politicians. Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said he regretted that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had refused to tell the truth when she visited Brussels last December.

While European governments denied the existence of any secret prisons on their territory, members of the European Parliament have called on the governments to come clean about such jails.

Some EU parliamentarians said the location of these prisons, and any EU members or candidate countries involved, should be released to the public.

Washington should tell all the truth, which was also an obligation of U.S. citizens, said Swiss senator Dick Marty, leading the investigation into the issue of the CIA prisons for the Council of Europe.

Source: Xinhua



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