Poland knew about CIA torture prison on its soil, secret court session hears

December 3, 2013

Image of Barbed wire

A court has heard “overwhelming and uncontested evidence” of the existence on European soil of a CIA “black site,” used to torture prisoners – with the knowledge of host-government Poland.

Sitting in a secret session closed to public and press, the European Court of Human Rights yesterday heard from a range of expert witnesses – who cannot currently be named – that a CIA torture prison existed in Poland, and that the Polish Government was aware of it and the uses to which it was being put.

The account of yesterday’s secret hearing is provided by Reprieve investigator Crofton Black, who has been researching the issue of secret prisons in Europe during the ‘War on Terror’ and was allowed access.

Dr Black said: “We have now heard overwhelming and uncontested evidence that the CIA was running a secret torture prison on Polish soil, with the Polish Government’s knowledge.  Despite being given many opportunities to do so, the Polish Government has failed to contest that it knew prisoners were being held beyond the rule of law and tortured by the CIA inside their own country.  It has also become clear that the Polish Government’s investigation into the issue was in reality nothing more than a smoke-screen, which was neither designed nor intended to get to the truth.

“European support for the CIA’s torture programme is one of the darkest chapters of our recent history – it is encouraging that the court now looks set to bring it to light, where the government has sought to sweep it under the carpet.”

Abu Zubaydah v. Poland is the first time a European country has been taken to court for allowing the CIA to run a torture site on its territory.  Declassified US government documents and Reprieve’s renditions investigations demonstrate that current Guantanamo detainee Mr Zubaydah was flown from a CIA prison site in Thailand to one in Poland in Dec. 2002. The fact that Poland knowingly hosted this prison means that it is directly responsible for the violations of his rights that took place there in 2002-2003.

Today (3 December) saw the second day of a two-day hearing, the first day of which was held in a closed court.


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166