Court condemns Poland for secret CIA “Black Sites”

Warsaw (PMN)—The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Europe’s top human rights court, condemned Poland on July 24, 2014, for hosting secret CIA prisons, saying Warsaw knowingly abetted unlawful imprisonment and torture of two Guantanamo-bound detainees.

The Court ruled in favor of a Palestinian and a Saudi national, Abu Zubaydah, 43, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 49, respectively, locked up in a U.S. “black site” for several months in Poland in 2002-2003 before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where they are still being held. More than a decade later, they have not as yet had a hearing before a U.S. judge.

The ECHR said in its rulings over the cases that the Polish government “enabled the U.S. authorities to subject the applicant to torture and ill-treatment on its territory.”

Their lawyers told the Strasbourg court the men were repeatedly tortured by waterboarding. The ECHR also found Warsaw guilty of allowing the men to be sent to places where they faced torture, further detention and “flagrant denial of justice.”

The government was ordered to pay about $135,000 in damages to each man.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said that “Poland doesn’t comment on the court’s verdicts as we respect its jurisdiction.” Poland has three months to appeal the decision.

Poland’s president at the time, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was quoted by Polish news agency PAP as saying, “I respect the verdicts of independent tribunals, but I will not comment on them.”

Leaders of this NATO member have repeatedly denied knowing anything about the so-called CIA black sites. However, former Polish spy chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski said in 2012 that prosecutors had charged him in connection with the probe.

An investigation into the detainees’ treatment was opened in Poland in 2008, but is still not concluded, a situation that has been condemned by the UN’s anti-torture body.

Human right organizations in Poland hailed the ECHR verdict, noting it was the first time a European Union (EU) member was found guilty of hosting secret U.S. jails. In Warsaw, Irmina Pacho of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights stated the verdict proves that “government policy aimed at sweeping the case under the rug is short-sighted.”

Poland is one of a number of European countries accused of having assisted the United States in its extraordinary rendition of suspected terrorists from the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Guantanamo, in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Source: Polonia Media Network