Pakistani authorities have illegally sent hundreds of Pakistanis and foreigners to prisons or handed them to the United States for money, said a report released Friday by Amnesty International.
"Bounty hunters, including police officers and local people, have captured individuals of different nationalities, often apparently at random, and sold them into U.S. custody," said Claudio Cordone, the senior director of research at the human rights organization.
The report is based on a number of interviews with former detainees, including citizens from Bahrain, Australia, Britain, Ethiopia and Sweden, who say they were illegally abducted while in Pakistan and handed over to American authorities.
Offered up to $5,000 US a suspect
Fuelled by American offers of up to $5,000 US for suspects, they were sent to the U.S. naval prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the U.S. Bagram air base in Afghanistan or secret detention centres run by the U.S. but based in other countries.
"People held in Pakistan for alleged links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban have been arrested and detained without reference to national or international human rights law," says the report.
"Custodial safeguards have been blatantly ignored and the protection of law has been routinely denied."
'We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars.' -Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president
In a statement, Amnesty said such detainees also are at "risk of torture and unlawful transfer to third countries."
The group did not specify how many detainees had been arrested by Pakistan, or say how many it believed were innocent.
Road to Guantanamo 'starts in Pakistan'
The Amnesty allegations follow the revelation by the country's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in his memoir In The Line of Fire that Pakistan had captured 689 al-Qaeda terror suspects, and turned over 369 to Washington.
"We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars," said Musharraf, who is in London after spending part of the week in North America, where he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Canada and U.S. President George W. Bush as well as promoting his book.
"The road to Guantanamo very literally starts in Pakistan," said Amnesty's Cordone.
Pakistani officials haven't commented on the report, which recommends the country end the alleged practices.
"While recognizing that some of the human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the 'war on terror' may have been carried out at the behest of U.S. officials, as a sovereign state Pakistan bears full responsibility for all human rights violations committed on its territory and with its knowledge and consent,"the report says.