WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is continuing rendition - the practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation without due process, according to a media report.

George Bush administration’s practice of rendition is continuing under the Obama administration despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

“Renditions are taking on renewed significance because the administration and Congress have not reached agreement on a consistent legal pathway for apprehending terrorism suspects overseas and bringing them to justice,” the Post said.

Congress has thwarted President Barack Obama’s pledge to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and has created barriers against trying al-Qaeda suspects in civilian courts, including new restrictions in a defence authorization bill passed last month. The White House, meanwhile, has resisted lawmakers’ efforts to hold suspects in military custody and try them before military commissions. The impasse and lack of detention options, critics say, have led to a de facto policy under which the administration finds it easier to kill terrorism suspects, a key reason for the surge of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Renditions, though controversial and complex, represent one of the few alternatives, it said.

“In a way, rendition has become even more important than before,” Clara Gutteridge, director of the London-based Equal Justice Forum, a human rights group that investigates national security cases and that opposes the practice was quoted as saying.

According to the Post, it is not known how many renditions have taken place during Obama’s first term due to the secrecy involved but his administration has not disavowed the practice. In the latest example of Obama administration’s use of the tactic, a number of American interrogates visited three European men with Somali origins in a jail in the small African country of Djibouti. The detainees had been arrested on a vague pretext in August as they were passing through the African country. US agents accused the three men of supporting Somalia’s al-Shabab group. The prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York two months after their arrest. They were then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial. The secret arrests and detentions became known on December 21, when the suspects appeared briefly in a Brooklyn courtroom. The US government has revealed little about the circumstances of the arrests. The FBI and federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York have also not said where and why the defendants were detained.

Human rights advocates have condemned Obama administration’s decision to continue rendition. Obama, in his first presidential candidacy, had strongly suggested he might end the practice but the tactic is still continuing under his administration.