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Gov’t mum on CIA ‘black site’ report

Three government officials last night declined to comment on a news report claiming that Cambodia offered to provide the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) a site to interrogate and detain al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaida, following his arrest in 2002.

In a Washington Post report on Thursday about CIA “black sites” created in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Cambodia is one of two countries in Southeast Asia cited that offered up locations.

“Cambodia and Thailand offered to help the CIA,” the report reads, citing former CIA officials speaking on condition of anonymity. “Cambodia turned out to be the less desirable of the two. Agency officers told superiors that a proposed site was infested with snakes.”

Zubaida was briefly held in Thailand before the CIA opened a larger interrogation prison in Poland where he was transferred.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said he could not comment on the matter without reading the original story, while Keo Vanthan, director of Interpol Police at the Ministry of Interior, said he was overseas and, therefore, “cannot talk”.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he had no knowledge of government plans to help the CIA house al-Qaeda suspects.

“You do know the CIA is a secret agency?” he said.

Zubaida, who was later transferred to the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where he remains, is yet to be charged with a crime. According to the Washington Post’s report, the Senate Intelligence Committee in the US will soon release parts of a report on the interrogation program at the “black site” prison in Poland that is said to have involved torture.

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