US President Barack Obama has said that CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects will not be prosecuted:
“The four secret memos detail the legal justification for the Bush-era CIA interrogation programme, whose methods critics say amounted to torture.
Mr Obama gave an assurance that “those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice… will not be subject to prosecution”.
One of the documents contained legal authorisation for a list of specific harsh interrogation techniques, including pushing detainees against a wall, facial slaps, cramped confinement, stress positions and sleep deprivation.
The memo also authorises the use of “waterboarding”, or simulated drowning, and the placing of a detainee into a confined space with an insect.
Critics of the Bush-era interrogation programme say the newly-released memos provide evidence that many of the methods amount to torture under US and international law.
“Bottom line here is you’ve had crimes committed,” Amnesty International analyst Tom Parker told the BBC.
“These are criminal acts. Torture is illegal under American law, it’s illegal under international law. America has an international obligation to prosecute the individuals who carry out these kind of acts.”