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EU Investigator: CIA Covertly Transferred Terrorism Suspects

A European Union investigator says the United States has sent as many as 50 terrorism suspects from one country to another since 2001.

EU investigator Claudio Fava told journalists Wednesday in Strasbourg that CIA officials gave his investigative team the information during a visit to the United States last week.

Fava said a first-hand source confirmed the existence of seven sites operated by the CIA in Asia, Europe and Africa. He said the source told investigators the centers in Europe were closed amid public and media pressure, but one still operates in an unnamed north African country.

The head of the inquiry, Portugal's Carlos Coelho, said information gathered during the visit indicates the controversial transfer program, known as extraordinary rendition, would not have been possible without the support of European governments. International human rights groups have expressed concern over possible torture of the detainees.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush, have defended the practice as legal under international law. They stressed that the United States does not transfer detainees to countries where they will be tortured.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.