Thailand denies hosting any secret CIA prisoner center

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand has never allowed the United States to detain or torture terrorism suspects on its soil, a senior Thai official said on Thursday, contradicting reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ran a secret prison in the country.

Paradorn Pattanathabutr, speaks to journalists as he arrives for a meeting ahead of talks with Thailand's National Revolutionary Front (BRN), at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

A U.S. Senate report released on Tuesday revealed torture by the CIA at sites around the world and could have legal consequences for governments and officials involved.

“We have never allowed the U.S. to use our space for detention or torture and there have never been any requests to do so,” Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a former National Security Council chief who advises Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, told Reuters.

The redacted U.S. Senate report did not identify the countries where CIA agents carried out torture, which included sleep deprivation, mock executions and simulated drowning or “water boarding”.

The Thai government has repeatedly denied that the CIA operated a secret prison in Thailand, despite numerous international media reports over the past decade in which U.S. intelligence officials have identified the country as the host of a so-called black site.

“We confirm that there are no secret prisons,” Suwaphan Tanyuvardhanam, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters.

“There have never been cases of bringing in these sort of prisoners. This is something that has been talked about for many years and we have never conducted any illegal activities with the U.S.,” said Suwaphan, a former chief of Thailand’s National Intelligence Agency.

The U.S. Senate report details the role of Thai authorities in capturing Indonesian militant leader Hambali in Ayutthaya, Thailand, in 2003.

Hambali was the head of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah militant group and is suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the bombing of a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali the following year in which more than 200 people were killed.

The capture of Hambali is often touted by the U.S. intelligence community as evidence that hard interrogation produces results, although the Senate report quotes the head of the Central Intelligence Agency as saying the agency “stumbled” upon Hambali.

Rather than CIA interrogation, the capture came through email monitoring, a tip off from a CIA source, and Thai investigative activities, the reports stated.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Simon Webb; Editing by Andrew RC Marshall and Robert Birsel