Hume's report on Uzbekistan neglected to mention evidence of U.S. rendition policy there

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

Fox News devoted a full segment of the May 23 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume to political repression and human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, but failed to mention that the United States regularly sends terrorism suspects to Uzbekistan for interrogation, in a practice called rendition, according to news reports. The Central Intelligence Agency has rendered dozens of U.S.-held detainees to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation despite world condemnation of the government's torture of prisoners.

In an interview with Columbia University professor Steven Sestanovich, a former ambassador and State Department official, host Brit Hume noted that, although the United States would like to condemn Uzbek President Islam Karimov, "The problem for the U.S. is that he has been a strategic ally in the war on terror, and the U.S. has a military base there." But neither Hume nor Sestanovich mentioned one crucial form of assistance that Karimov has reportedly provided: allowing the CIA to render detainees to Uzbekistan for interrogations that would likely be illegal for U.S. interrogators to perform.

Despite "little high-level contact" between the U.S. and Uzbek governments prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, growing evidence demonstrates that the United States has rendered "dozens" of detainees to Uzbekistan for interrogations since then, "even as Uzbekistan's treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department," according to a May 1 article in The New York Times. When asked about the practice at an April press conference, President Bush stated: "We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country."

A May 18 Washington Post report gave a similar account of U.S. renderings to Uzbekistan: "The United States has also transported suspected terrorists to Uzbekistan as part of its 'rendition' program, despite documented torture by the government." On the March 7 edition of ABC's World News Tonight, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray stated that the CIA knew that the Uzbeks were torturing prisoners, including one case in which he received photos of a prisoner who was boiled alive. When his deputy confronted the CIA station chief about the practices, he was told "Yes, it [information] probably was obtained under torture."

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