Lawyers for two terror suspects currently held by the U.S. in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, accuse Poland of human rights abuses. They say
they fell victim to the CIA's program to kidnap terror suspects and
transfer them to third countries, and allege they were tortured in a
remote Polish prison.
The case marks the first time Europe's role in the CIA's
"extraordinary rendition" of terror suspects reaches Europe's human
One of the cases concerns 48-year-old Saudi national Abd al-Rahim
al-Nashiri, who currently faces terror charges in the U.S. for
allegedly orchestrating the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole in 2000,
a bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and
The second case involves 42-year-old Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian
also held in Guantanamo. Zubaydah has never been charged with a
A declassified report released in 2009 showed the CIA deemed
al-Nashiri and Zubaydah as "high value detainees" meaning they are
held under ultra-secure conditions in a secret section of Guantanamo
known as Camp 7.
Both men say they were brought to Poland in December 2002, where
they were detained and subjected to harsh questioning in a Polish
military installation in Stare Kiejkuty, a village set in a lush
area of woods and lakes in the country's remote northeast.
There they were subject to mock executions, waterboarding and other
tortures, including being told their families would be arrested and
sexually abused, said Amrit Singh, a lawyer representing al-Nashiri.
"This case is an opportunity to break the conspiracy of silence"
about the participation of some European governments in the CIA's
rendition program, Singh said. "These acts occurred on Polish
territory with the acquiescence and connivance of the Polish
authorities," Singh said.
Polish prosecutor Janusz Sliwa said that Poland should be allowed to
complete its own investigation into the claims before having them
taken up by Europe's human rights court. Sliwa is leading the Polish
investigation, which has gone on for five years without an outcome.
They are asking the court to condemn Poland for various abuses of
rights guaranteed by Europe's Convention on Human Rights.
Former CIA officials have told The Associated Press that a prison in
Poland operated from December 2002 until the fall of 2003. Human
rights groups believe about eight terror suspects were held in
Poland, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed
mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
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Polish leaders in office at the time - former President Aleksander
Kwasniewski and former Prime Minister Leszek Miller - denied the
In his memoir "Decision Points" former President George W. Bush
writes that he ordered the CIA to subject about 100 terror detainees
to harsh interrogation techniques, arguing the methods did not
constitute unlawful torture and that they produced intelligence that
prevented further attacks.
The CIA has never said where the black sites were based, but
intelligence officials, aviation reports and human rights groups say
they included Afghanistan and Thailand as well as Poland, Lithuania
Polish prosecutors opened an investigation into the matter in 2008.
It has been extended several times and remains pending, although
authorities have never disclosed the investigation's terms or scope.
Sliwa said that Polish investigators have not had access to the two
men. He acknowledged that their investigation has been long, "but
not excessively lengthy."
All the prisons were closed by May 2006. Interrogations at sea have
replaced CIA black sites as the U.S. government's preferred method
for holding suspected terrorists and questioning them without access
The court's ruling is expected at a later date. Singh said she is
hopeful that a ruling in her client's favor will come before Sept.
2, 2014 - the date his U.S. trial is scheduled to begin.
Press; GREG KELLER]
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