Human Rights Watch said today that it has uncovered evidence of a wider use of waterboarding in interrogations of detainees than has ever been acknowledged by the United States.
The rights watchdog detailed brutal treatment at secret CIA-run prisons under the Bush administration-era US programme of detention and rendition of terror suspects.
Its report also paints a picture of Washington's close co-operation with the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
The US apparently handed over Islamist opponents of Gadaffi that it detained abroad with only thin "diplomatic assurances" that they would not be mistreated and several were subsequently tortured in prison.
The organisation's report features interviews with 14 Libyan dissident exiles.
"Not only did the US deliver Gadaffi his enemies on a silver platter but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first," said Human Rights Watch counter-terrorism adviser Laura Pitter.
They describe systematic abuses while they were held in US detention centres in Afghanistan - some for as long as two years - or in US-led interrogations in Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Sudan and elsewhere before the US handed them over to Libya.
"The scope of Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged," Ms Pitter added.
Just days ago, the Justice Department announced it would not bring criminal charges against any CIA personnel over interrogation methods used in the detention and rendition programme.
Investigators claimed they could not prove that any interrogators went beyond Bush administration guidelines.
The 14 Libyans interviewed by Human Rights Watch were mostly members of the anti-Gadaffi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who fled in the 1980s and 1990s to Pakistan, Afghanistan and African countries.
Ironically, the US turned around and helped the Libyan opposition overthrow Gadaffi in 2011.
Now several of the 14 former detainees hold positions in the new Libyan government.
Eight of those interviewed were handed over to Libya in 2004 - the same year then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a public rapprochement with Gaddafi and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell signed a major exploration deal off the Libyan coast.
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