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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Amnesty Presses Russia Over Its Rights Record

Russia should use its spell as president of the Group of Eight countries as an opportunity to clean up its record on human rights, Amnesty International head Irene Khan said Wednesday.

Khan said other G8 countries were guilty of rights abuses, too, and that she expected President Vladimir Putin to use the G8 summit next week to challenge Washington over issues such as the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

"None of the G8 governments have clean hands when it comes to human rights issues," Khan, who had talks with Putin late Tuesday, said in an interview.

"But what we did press [Putin] on was that being a G8 leader and particularly holding the presidency now gives him an opportunity to provide critical leadership on a number of issues, including on human rights issues.

"This gives him an opportunity both to promote human rights positively abroad but also to set his own house in order," she said.

Putin says much of the criticism comes from people who want to weaken Russia. "We are open to an honest, unpoliticized dialogue on human rights," he told a conference of European justice officials Wednesday.

"But it is unacceptable for us to use the topic of defending human rights for political influence and … opportunistic aims," he said.

Khan had about three hours of talks with Putin on Tuesday along with the heads of 11 other international pressure groups and charities.

She said Putin had agreed to pass on to other G8 leaders the rights groups' concern that human rights were being sacrificed in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

Khan said the concerns Putin promised to raise included detention without trial at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and Europe's role in "rendition" — flying prisoners via Europe to U.S. detention centers.

The G8 includes Russia, the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada and Italy.