U.S. attorney general: U.S. does not engage in torture.
VIENNA, Austria – U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted Wednesday the United States does not condone torture and said terrorist suspects will not be sent to countries where they could face such treatment.Gonzales, who met with Austria’s interior and justice ministers and EU officials, was responding to allegations by European lawmakers that they had discovered a “widespread regular practice” of human rights violations by the CIA on their continent.The lawmakers claimed in a report last week that the CIA had conducted more than 1,000 undeclared flights over European territory since the Sept. 11 terror attacks – some carrying suspected terrorists to countries where they could face torture. The practice is known as “extraordinary rendition.””The United States does not engage in torture and does not condone torture. There are domestic laws that prohibit such conduct and of course we have our international obligations under the convention against torture,” Gonzales told a news conference.”The obligation with respect to torture obviously applies also in respect to renditions … as we all know, renditions in and of itself is nothing extraordinary,” he said. “We understand that there are real obligations in respect to all renditions and that we will not transfer someone to another country where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured.”U.S. officials have acknowledged flying up to 150 of the most serious suspected terrorists from one country to another, but said they receive “diplomatic assurances” from authorities that they won’t use torture on the detainees they receive.At the news conference, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini urged all member states to ratify the EU-U.S. extradition treaty by the time the United States and the EU meet in Vienna for a summit in June. President Bush will be present at the meeting, it was announced Wednesday.The treaty, signed in 2003, aims to speed extradition of terrorists and cut down funding to terrorist organizations and expands mutual legal assistance agreements between the United States and the EU. It also broadens the number of crimes to which extradition will apply.Vail, Colorado
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