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Bush orders torture ban

WASHINGTON: US President George W Bush signed an executive order governing interrogation of terrorism suspects, prohibiting cruel and inhumane treatment, humiliation or denigration of prisoners' religious beliefs.

Five years after he exempted Al Qaeda and Taliban members from the Geneva provisions, Bush signed an executive order requiring the CIA to comply with prohibitions against "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" as set down in the conventions' Common Article 3.

Bush, who insists the US does not use torture, has faced pressure at home and abroad over interrogation techniques used on suspected militants held at secret CIA prisons and other locations, including the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Critics have complained the CIA has mistreated prisoners during clandestine flights in and out of countries in Europe.

The White House did not detail what types of interrogation procedures would be allowed.

The White House did not detail what types of interrogation procedures would be allowed.

The order prohibits acts including murder, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, mutilation or maiming, intentional serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, biological experiments and the taking of hostages.

It bans "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency."

Acts intended to denigrate a detainee' s religion are also prohibited.

CIA director Michael Hayden said the order was the culmination of a process that began with the Supreme Court's ruling on June 29, 2006 that protections under the Geneva Conventions apply to people captured in the US "war on terror."

But he defended CIA activities involving such people as having been consistent with US statutes and was reviewed by US justice and legislative officials.

"The CIA programme that the president announced last September always operated in strict accord with American law," he said.

"But the Supreme Court's decision changed the legal landscape in which we operated. So it was incumbent upon the agency to seek guarantees that any actions the CIA might take in the future regarding detainees would be, as before, on a completely sound legal foundation."

l US citizen, 28-year-old Daniel Maldonado was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for training with Al Qaeda militants in Somalia in 2006.

Maldonado had earlier pleaded guilty and said he travelled to Somalia last year where he received training from Islamists trying to overthrow the government there.

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