Poland ex-spy boss 'charged over alleged CIA secret prison'
A former head of Poland’s foreign intelligence service faces charges of illegal detention and use of corporal punishment at an alleged secret CIA “black site” used to house high-ranking terrorism suspects.
Zbigniew Siemiatowski confirmed to Gazeta Wyborcza, a Polish newspaper, that prosecutors had charged him as part of their long-running investigation into a secret detention centre in eastern Poland used by the CIA from 2002 to 2003 for suspects in transit to Guantanamo Bay, but said he refused to co-operate.
“While in the prosecutor's office I refused to answer questions and I shall continue to do so at every stage of the proceedings, including in court,” Mr Siemiatowski told the paper.
Investigators allege the spy boss exceeded his powers and breached international law through the use of “unlawful deprivation of liberty” and “corporal punishment” against prisoners of war.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office refused to confirm the charges owing to state secrecy.
The paper also claimed that Colonel Andrzej Derlatka, then second in command at the foreign intelligence agency and responsible for co-operation with Washington, will face similar charges.
Gazeta Wyborcza explained that the cases against the two are based on documents released to prosecutors by the foreign intelligence agency detailing links with the CIA in the first years of Washington’s proclaimed “war on terror”.
The case brought against the ex-spy chief makes Mr Siemiatowski the first Polish official to face the possibility of trial over the “black site” scandal since an investigation into allegations that the CIA had operated a base in Poland in contravention to Polish law started in 2008.
Despite repeated denials from former Polish government ministers about the existence of the base a Council of Europe report said Warsaw permitted the CIA to open a secret holding pen on a military base in Stare Klejkuty, in north-east Poland, in December 2002 for “high-value detainees”.
Classified as “passengers” for bureaucratic purposes the prisoners were apparently flown into a nearby civilian airport on non-military aircraft. They were then taken to the base where they were subject to “enhanced interrogation” techniques.
One of prisoners, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national wanted by the CIA on suspicion of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbour in 2000, has claimed he was threatened with a pistol during his time in Poland while on another occasion an interrogator scared him by switching on an electric drill.
A Polish intelligence agency source quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza said Poland only provided transport to a villa on the base, which was “off limits to Poles”.
The charges brought against Mr Siemiatowski could place more pressure on Leszek Miller, Poland’s prime minister when the base was apparently operational. Rumours of prosecutor’s preparing a case against the politician strengthened in the wake of the latest revelations, and prompted Mr Miller to issue another denial over the base’s existence.
“According to my knowledge, and as I have told you many times before, there were no CIA prisons in Poland,” he said at a press conference.