Polish authorities make desperate attempt to cover up CIA prison

March 2, 2012

Poland’s authorities have, without warning, moved crucial evidence of a secret CIA prison to an undisclosed location, in what appears to be a last ditch attempt to impede human rights lawyers working on the case.

After months of waiting, lawyers working on behalf of two victims of CIA detention had been due to examine the Polish Prosecutor General’s case file on the issue, only to find that the entire investigation – along with the file – had been transferred hundreds of kilometres away to a different jurisdiction.

The Warsaw prosecutor’s office – which until recently had held the file – is now refusing to discuss the case, saying only that it has been transferred from the capital to the southern city of Krakow. The exact location of the file remains a mystery, and the lawyer for one of the victims, Bartlomiej Jankowski, has been given no indication of when he will now be able to see it.

In a letter to the Prosecutor General, Andrzej Seremet, today, Mr Jankowski asks why, at such an advanced stage in its investigation and with access agreed to victims’ lawyers, the file was suddenly moved, and questions the motivation behind this development. “The decision drastically threatens the protection of the interests of the victim, Abu Zubaydah,” he says.

Crofton Black, an investigator for legal action charity Reprieve, which is working with Mr Jankowski, said: “This looks like a last-ditch attempt to stop lawyers getting to the bottom of Poland’s part in the CIA’s rendition programme. It’s not the first time that this investigation has undergone inexplicable changes. As more information about Poland’s role in extraordinary renditions becomes public, the prosecutor will need to open up his file to the victims – such desperate attempts at a cover-up will not wash.”

ENDS

Notes:

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on: +44 (0) 207 427 1082

2. Polish prosecutors have been investigating the CIA detention operations in Poland since 2008. Considerable public source information shows that prisoners, including Abu Zubaydah, were flown from Thailand to Poland on 5 Dec. 2002 and remained in Poland until September 2003. Prisoners landed at Szymany airbase in the north of Poland and were transferred to a secret site in the military base at Stare Kiejkuty where they were tortured.

3. Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. After his capture, he became the guinea pig for the CIA’s “Enhanced Interrogation Programme”. After over four years in the secret prison network, in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania and elsewhere, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he still remains. He has now been held by the US for 10 years without charge, although US authorities no longer assert that he had any connection to al Qaeda.