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Red Cross Says US Continues to Refuse Access to Secret Detainees


The International Committee of the Red Cross says the United States has again refused to grant the humanitarian agency access to terrorism suspects held in secret detention centers.

In a strongly-worded statement Friday, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger expressed disappointment that the officials refused to grant such access to detainees. He says "there exists no right to conceal a person's whereabouts," no matter how legitimate the grounds for detention. The former Swiss diplomat said the ICRC would continue to seek access to detainees.

The statement issued in Geneva follows Kellenberger's talks in Washington with senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

The United States describes most of the detainees as enemy combatants rather than prisoners of war. It has granted the Red Cross access to detainees held in known prisons.

The issue of secret detention centers became the subject of intense international scrutiny after a published report about them last November. Human rights experts and European lawmakers have been seeking information on the detainees.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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