The European Commission assures it will investigate reports that the CIA set up secret jails in eastern Europe to interrogate senior terrorist captives.
Separately, Europe's top human rights organization, the Strasbourg, France-based Council of Europe, said it too would try to see whether the claims were true.
The governments of the European Union's 25 members nations will be informally questioned about the allegations, EU spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said.
"We have to find out what is exactly happening. We have all heard about this, then we have to see if it is confirmed," he said.
U.S. officials have refused to confirm or deny a report by the Washington Post that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating top al-Qaida suspects in several eastern European countries.
According to the report, a covert prison system was set up by the CIA nearly four years ago which at various times included sites in eight countries, including Afghanistan and several eastern Europe nations. It quoted current and former intelligence officials and diplomats as sources for its story.
Several European nations issued firm denials about the existence of such prisons.
EU member Hungary's foreign ministry said it was never approached by the CIA and therefore there was no need for the government to carry out any separate inquiries. In the Baltics, the chief of Latvia's Security Police, Janis Reinikis, said such facilities "do not and cannot exist here." Denials also came from now-independent former Soviet republics such as Georgia and Armenia.
"As far as the treatment of prisoners is concerned ... it is clear that all 25 member states having signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and to the International Convention Against Torture, are due to respect and fully implement the obligations deriving from those treaties," Roscam Abbing, the EU spokesman, told.
He said technical experts from the Commission's justice and interior affairs directorate would be in contact with their counterparts across the EU and candidate countries - a category which currently includes Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Turkey - to assess the truth of the report, the AP reports.
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