WARSAW: Poland’s government has, for a second time in 12 months, declined a request from the European Court of Human Rights to provide information about the alleged existence of secret CIA jails on its soil.
The Strasbourg-based court is trying to find out how closely Poland cooperated with the clandestine part of U.S. operations against Islamist militancy.
Poland is the only country with a domestic criminal investigation running into allegations it hosted a CIA “black site”. If it is proven that Polish officials agreed to the jail, it will be a crime under Polish and international law.
Human rights activists accuse the Polish authorities of using the domestic investigation as a smokescreen to disguise their inaction. The Polish case has been running for five years, with no sign any prosecutions are imminent.
The European court had asked Poland to answer questions about Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, who alleged that, about a decade ago, he was held in a CIA-run facility in a forest in northern Poland and subjected to brutal interrogation.
In its reply to the court, which was seen by Reuters, the government said it could not answer the questions because that might compromise the Polish criminal investigation.
The United States has acknowledged that it had facilities around the world where it held al Qaeda suspects. Keeping them on foreign soil meant the detainees were not entitled to the protection afforded under U.S. law.
Polish officials deny hosting any “black sites”, though they do say that in 2002 and 2003, aircraft used by the CIA landed, without border or customs controls, at a remote airfield in northern Poland, near the site of the alleged jail..
Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri has said that he, like Zubaydah, was held at the jail, in the grounds of an intelligence training facility near the village of Stare Kiejkuty in Poland.
Both men are now being held at the U.S. military jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba