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A Polish investigation into secret CIA jails is being suppressed because it will embarrass the top echelon of the country’s government, lawyers of two men held illegally in one of the CIA’s ‘black sites’ in Poland tell media.
Reportedly, the results of this investigation could link some of Poland’s most senior politicians with illegal detention and torture, as well as impact negatively on the relationship between Poland and its key ally, the US, according to Reuters.
The news agency’s sources, including lawyers and human rights activists, reveal that the investigation was halted after the original investigators were taken off the case early last year.
The probe began in 2008 with prosecutors from the capital Warsaw, but in early 2012 the prosecutor-general transferred the investigation to the southern city of Krakow.
"The image is of a complete lack of action," Mikolaj Pietrzak, lawyer for Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri who says he was detained in a CIA jail on Polish soil, told Reuters. "The case is obviously, in my opinion, under political control … The most convenient thing politically is for the case to drag on," Pietrzak added.
Bartlomiej Jankowski, a lawyer for the second alleged ex-detainee, Abu Zubaydah, has confirmed this.
"I am not receiving any information [from prosecutors] about new documents, nor am I informed about any new hearings. This is something that worries me," Jankowski said.
CIA-run prison was discovered in a small remote village Stare Kiejkuty and was operational from December 2002 to the fall of 2003. It was used to transport suspected Al-Qaeda members outside the US territory to interrogate without having to adhere to US law.
Polish officials say the investigators are still in the midst of collecting evidence and the investigation is taking so long because US officials have not been responding to information requests.
Self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other defenders claim they were tortured in Guantanamo, prompting their lawyers to call for the preservation of the CIA secret prisons to use them as evidence.
The pretrial hearing for the suspected terrorist conspirators began Monday. Facing the death penalty for their involvement in the deadly attacks that killed 2,976 people on September 11, 2011, the five prisoners are making a last-ditch attempt to reduce sentence by describing their torture experiences at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base.
Mohammed previously accused the US government of killing millions of people and employing inhumane torture procedures “under the name of national security.” Attorneys representing the defendants are now calling for the judge to demand the preservation of the CIA “black sites” to use as evidence in the case against the US government. If the attorneys are able to prove that any of the evidence against the conspirators was obtained through torture, then this evidence may be excluded during the trial and lead to reduced sentences.
At least 54 countries including Syria, Iran, Sweden, Iceland, and UK offered CIA “covert support” to detain, transport, interrogate and torture suspects in the years following the 9/11 attacks, according to a new report.
The 213-page report released by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organization, documents wide-ranging international involvement in the American campaign against Al-Qaeda.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) commenced a secret detention program under which suspected terrorists were held in CIA prisons, also known as “black sites,” outside the United States, where they were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” that involved torture and other abuse. At about the same time, the CIA gained expansive authority to engage in “extraordinary rendition,” defined here as the transfer— without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation.2 Both the secret detention program and the extraordinary rendition program were highly classified, conducted outside the United States, and designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of the law. Torture was a hallmark of both. The two programs entailed the abduction and disappearance of detainees and their extra-legal transfer on secret flights to undisclosed locations around the world, followed by their incommunicado detention, interrogation, torture, and abuse. The administration of President George W. Bush embraced the “dark side,” a new paradigm for countering terrorism with little regard for the constraints of domestic and international law.
Today, more than a decade after September 11, there is no doubt that high- ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorizing human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern. But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.
However, to date, the full scale and scope of foreign government participation—as well as the number of victims—remains unknown, largely because of the extreme secrecy maintained by the United States and its partner governments.