The CIA has been holding and interrogating al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in Eastern Europe, part of a covert prison system established after the September 11, 2001, attacks, according to The Washington Post.
The newspaper said the existence and locations of the facilities are known only to a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.
The CIA has not acknowledged the existence of a secret prison network.
The prisons are referred to as "black sites" in classified U.S. documents and virtually nothing is known about who the detainees are, how they are interrogated or about decisions on how long they will be held, the report said.
About 30 major terrorism suspects have been held at black sites while more than 70 other detainees, considered less important, were delivered to foreign intelligence services under a process known as "rendition," the paper said, citing U.S. and foreign intelligence sources.
The top 30 al Qaeda prisoners are isolated from the outside world, they have no recognized legal rights and no one outside the CIA is allowed to talk with or see them.
The paper, citing several former and current intelligence and other U.S. government officials, said the CIA used such detention centers abroad because in the United States it is illegal to hold prisoners in such isolation.
The Washington Post said it was not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program at the request of senior U.S. officials.
The secret detention system was conceived shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, when the working assumption was that another strike was imminent, the AP reports according to The Washington Post reports.