Poland Accused in Europe Human Rights Court of Aiding CIA Kidnapping and Torture

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Polish government has been accused of violating the human rights of two detainees captured and kidnapped by the United States during the George W. Bush administration.


The accusations leveled at Poland came before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, which is hearing the cases of two Guantánamo Bay inmates. It is the first time that the court has examined the role that European countries played in the CIA's “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.


Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri claim they were brought to a Central Intelligence Agency “black site” in Poland in December 2002, where they were detained and tortured until June 2003, at which point they were transferred to other interrogation sites before being shipped to Guantánamo.


Zubaydah was accused by the George W. Bush administration of helping mastermind the September 11, 2001, attacks. But he has never been charged with a crime.


Nashiri is accused of helping carry out the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 crew members and wounded 37.


Considered “high value” detainees by the CIA, both men are currently imprisoned in a secret area of Guantánamo that is known as Camp 7.


Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the Open Society Foundations representing Nashiri, claims Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf) by facilitating his client’s alleged torture and incommunicado detention at Stare Kiejkuty, a Polish military base used by the CIA.


“This case is an opportunity to break the conspiracy of silence” about certain European governments’ participation in U.S. rendition program, Singh said, according to the Associated Press. “These acts occurred on Polish territory with the acquiescence and connivance of the Polish authorities.”


The lawyers want Poland to be condemned by the court for its complicity with the CIA abuses.


Nashiri was reportedly subjected to mock executions and painful stress positions and threatened with a power drill. Zubaydah also was held at Stare Kiejkuty, where he was allegedly waterboarded.  Both were also told that members of their families would be arrested and sexually abused, according to Singh.


Lawyers for both men say Poland was at fault for allowing their clients to be transferred to other alleged U.S. detention sites in Morocco and Afghanistan.


Polish authorities, who have accorded a “high level of credibility” to the two detainees’ claims, have said that their government needs to complete its own investigation of the affair before the European court considers the case. That investigation, which has remained under wraps, has so far lasted five years.


If the European court rules that Poland violated the rights of the two detainees, it is expected that it would be required to pay the men thousands of euros. That ruling is estimated to be several months away.


Fifty-four governments covertly supported the CIA’s rendition and torture operation.

-Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

European Court Examines CIA Black Sites (by Gabriele Steinhauser, Wall Street Journal)

Europe Rights Court to Hear of Secret CIA Prisons (by Greg Keller, Associated Press)

These 54 Governments Secretly Supported the CIA’s Kidnap-and-Torture Program (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Human Rights Court Concludes that CIA Tortured and Sodomized an Innocent German (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)         


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