Whistleblowing Wednesday: Human Rights Group Exposes Secret CIA Torture Prisons
Human rights campaigners welcomed on Wednesday a report that prosecutors had charged the former head of Poland’s intelligence service for helping set up CIA prisons for al Qaeda suspects in the country at the height of the U.S.-led “war on terror.”
Daily Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish newspaper, said on Tuesday that Zbigniew Siemiatkowski was charged as part of a classified investigation into the matter launched in 2008.
At least two prisoners of the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, have said they had been held by U.S. agents in Poland.
Rights groups say detainees were kept there without court orders and often tortured.
“Poland deserves credit for this step, as the first European state to begin to deal with CIA torture on its own soil,” London-based human rights group Reprieve said and urged Romania and Lithuania to follow Poland’s lead.
Poland’s smaller neighbor, Lithuania, was the first country in Europe to acknowledge it had worked with CIA in establishing two secret detention facilities in 2002-2006.
“Every state that has signed the (United Nations’) Convention Against Torture has an obligation not just to prevent torture but to hold accountable officials who authorize or facilitate it,” said Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Poland has traditionally been one of the staunchest U.S. allies in Europe and has taken part in missions both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Polish constitution bans torture and imprisonment without court order. Politicians who authorize such activity could be tried in regular courts as well as the State Tribunal, a special court set up to try senior state officials.