Thai Government Denies Housing CIA Secret Prison

Thai Cabinet Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana speaking to reporters on 11 Dec 2014.

BANGKOK — The Thai government has denied the existence of a secret prison inside the country’s borders following fresh queries about the alleged CIA "black site" after the release of a damning report on the US's post-9/11 interrogations of suspected terrorists.

“There is no secret prison in Thailand,” said Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana, a Cabinet Minister in Thailand's junta-appointed government. “There is no documented case of torture in Thailand. Thai agencies are not involved in this. This is a domestic issue for the US, between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.”

Thai authorities have denied the existence of a secret CIA-run jail in Thailand since rumours about the detention facility first surfaced in the early 2000s during the administration of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Although the US Senate Intelligence Committee's heavily redacted report does not reveal the locations of the CIA’s overseas prisons, NGOs and news organisations have used other details in the report to determine the location of eight so-called black sites in five countries around the world, including one in Thailand.  

The prison in Thailand is believed to be referred to as “Detention Site Green” in the report, which was released on 9 December.

The report describes abusive interrogation tactics used against al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah while he was allegedly held in Thailand’s secret facility.  According to a series of cables quoted in the report, Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive” during one waterboarding session. The sessions reportedly became so brutal that they brought some CIA officers “to the point of tears.” 

According to the report, “Detention Site Green” was established in March of 2002, but by April of that year a media organization had caught wind of the country Zubaydah was being held in. Several months later in November, the CIA learned that a major US newspaper also knew about Zubaydah's location, prompting senior CIA officers and US Vice President Dick Cheney to urge the newspaper to keep quiet. Although the newspaper – later identified as The New York Times – complied, the two cases of media attention led the CIA to shut down operations at “Detention Site Green,” the report says.

 

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A page from the US Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the arrest of terrorist suspect Hambali in Thailand.

Thailand is also mentioned by name in report’s section on the capture of suspected Bali bombing mastermind 'Hambali' in Ayutthaya, Thailand. His arrest, which was carried out with the help of “Thai investigative activities,” was cited by CIA officials as evidence of the “effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques” that had been used on another detainee.

However, the US Senate report overwhelmingly concludes that the CIA’s harsh interrogation tactics, which included a range of painful and unapproved procedures, did not provide essential breakthroughs in intelligence.

In a statement released by the White House, US President Barack Obama said the report confirmed his view that “these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as [a] nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.” President Obama formally ended the CIA's post-9/11 detention and interrogation program when he took office in 2009.

Immediately after the report was made public, the US State Department notified American citizens in Thailand, Afghanistan, and Pakistan that the release of the report's findings “could prompt anti-U.S. protests and violence against U.S. interests, including private U.S. citizens.”

Thai minister Suwaphan said he has informed Prime Minister and junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha of the report and its potential effects on American interests in Thailand.

“We have increased security measures for foreigners in the country,” Suwaphan said.

Thailand is one of the US’s strongest allies in the region. In 2003, the Thai government dispatched at least 450 soldiers to assist with the American military operation in Iraq. 

(Reporting by Sally Mairs)

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