Chief of staff of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Oleksandr Tkachuk denies the existence of "secret prisons" in its Kharkiv department.
"'Secret SBU prisons' - it reminds me of the rumors concerning the CIA secret prisons," Tkachuk said at the TV channel 112 Ukraine on 29 August, commenting on a statement by human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
In this context, he urged against such "loud statements".
"The information about "secret prisons" in Kharkiv is not true. Yes, we have a division in Kharkiv, a facility to ensure the pre-trial investigation, where SBU investigators work with detainees and suspects, but it is not accommodated to keep people [on a permanent basis]," Tkachuk argued.
According to him, the head of the SBU Vassyl Hrytsak ordered to check the statements of human rights watchdogs.
Tkachuk also said that the SBU has allowed the experts of the UN mission access to all their premises.
"On 5 September, if I am not mistaken, the delegation of the Subcommittee of the United Nations for the Prevention of Torture arrives in Ukraine. [The SBU head] Hrytsak has signed all the documents, all the required orders. That is, the authority to visit not only the detention centers, but any Security Service premises to remove all the innuendos and speculation in these areas," Tkachuk said.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said in an August 29 statement that after a meeting of representatives of the two organizations with chief military prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoliy Matios, Ukrainian authorities have released 13 people, who have been allegedly illegally held in an SBU secret detention facility in Kharkiv. Human rights activists claim that at least five other persons still remain in SBU custody.