CIA papers reveal it ran prison facilities in Poland

Fri, Sep 10, 2010, 01:00

AT LEAST one secret CIA prison operated on Polish territory between 2001 and 2003, according to a newly published internal document of the intelligence agency. An account of the document by the Associated Press (AP) agency suggests prisoners were not only held there but tortured. The Polish authorities have refused to confirm the story.

According to AP, a CIA officer “Albert” (his full name was not revealed) was reprimanded and retired after practising inhumane interrogation techniques in the secret “black site”.

Among the interrogations reported is that of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 Yemen attack in which 17 marines on the USS Colewere killed. Captured in Dubai, then detained in Afghanistan and Thailand, he was finally taken in December 2002 to the Polish-based CIA jail.

Here, according to the report, “Albert” put a bitless electric drill and a gun to the head of the shackled and hooded suspect. The improper nature of the interrogation was confirmed in a report from the CIA general inspector declassified last year, though neither the officer responsible nor the location of the prison were revealed.

AP, quoting government and an insider sources in the agency, claims the interrogation took place in Poland which accords with previous media information. The CIA prison is believed to have been in Kiejkuty, in the wooded Mazury region of northeast Poland. Press reports have claimed two CIA planes landed at nearby Szymany airport in December 2001 with prisoners.

Poland’s former president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, in power at the time, claims he has no knowledge of any CIA prisons on Polish territory: “Of course, we did and do collaborate with the CIA to prevent any terrorist attacks, but I am not aware on any CIA prisons on our territory. If they somehow did exist though, we do not have any jurisdiction on the US officers anyway.”

Prime minister Donald Tusk suggests in such matters the Polish government should be highly discreet. “The case is being investigated by the prosecutor,” he said curtly.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is now held in Guantánamo awaiting charging. The man held responsible for the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is also reported to have been held and tortured in the Polish prison.

Human rights organisations have attacked AP’s revelations as another scandalous CIA practice.

A secret investigation launched by Polish prosecutors in 2008 is probing whether the government exceeded its authority by allowing the US to keep prisoners on Polish territory. Responding to questions about CIA methods, Mr Kwasniewski said the question of “how much freedom, how much safety, and how to keep balance between the two is a big dilemma for all democratic countries”.

Zuzanna Reda is Irish correspondent for Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper