Poland ex-spy boss 'charged over alleged CIA secret prison'

Published: March 27, 2012

Poland has charged its former spy chief as part of a probe into claims it hosted a CIA "black site" where suspected al Qaeda members were allegedly tortured. PHOTO: FILE

WARSAW: Poland has charged its former spy chief as part of a probe into claims it hosted a CIA “black site” where suspected al Qaeda members were allegedly tortured, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Gazeta Wyborcza said former intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski told the paper that he had been charged but this was not confirmed by prosecutors leading the probe.

“I refused to testify before prosecutors and I will continue to do so at all stages of the proceedings, including before the court,” he said, citing reasons of state security.

Piotr Kosmaty, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Krakow which is handling the probe, said: “The investigation… is being conducted under state secrecy laws and it must remain confidential.”

But he added: “No arrest has been made as part of the probe.”

Polish prosecutors launched an investigation in August 2008 into allegations that Warsaw had allowed the US Central Intelligence Agency to operate a secret prison on its soil to interrogate top suspects in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The Council of Europe has said the Polish site, opened in December 2002, held several so-called “high-value detainees”, and claimed that other secret prisons were also set up in Romania and Lithuania.

One of the suspects believed to have been held in Poland was self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and faces trial at a US military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Polish government has repeatedly rejected the black site claims.

But Polish campaigners said in July that they had obtained official records about seven CIA planes — five of them carrying passengers — which landed in 2002 and 2003 at Szymany, a Polish military base in northeast Poland.

The Council of Europe has said black site detainees were held in secret, solitary confinement and subjected to “enhanced interrogation” that included such torture techniques as waterboarding, or simulated drowning.

Two Guantanamo inmates Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri have lodged complaints that they were subject to torture on Polish soil.

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