U.S. Secretary of State Rice did not respond to allegations about secret prisons during her December trip to Europe (file photo) (AFP)
12 January 2006 -- The European Parliament today decided to launch its own probe into allegations of secret CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe.
The lawmakers agreed to set up a 46-member committee in what is said to be the first investigation conducted by the European Union.
Several EU countries have launched their own probes, and so has the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog.
The parliament said in a statement that the committee will investigate whether U.S. agencies or third countries have carried out, among other things, abductions, detention at secret sites, and torture of prisoners on EU territory, "including acceding and candidate countries."
Allegations that the CIA hid and interrogated key Al-Qaeda suspects at detention facilities in Eastern Europe first became public in November 2005.
During a visit to Europe in December, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice defended U.S. interrogation practices and ruled out the use of torture by U.S. operatives anywhere in the world. However, she did not directly address allegations that the CIA ran secret jails.
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