Poland investigates secret CIA prisons

25th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

On the heels of a missile-shield deal, the Polish president wants an investigation into allegations that there were secret prisons in Poland used by the CIA to question suspected terrorists.

Warsaw – Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has requested an investigation into allegations there were secret prisons in the country used by the CIA to hold and question terrorism suspects between 2001 and 2004, Polish government officials confirmed.

Human rights groups have been increasingly pressuring the government to investigate allegations dating from 2005 that Poland, a staunch U.S. ally in Iraq, may have violated human rights by allowing the Bush administration to secretly hold and question terror suspects from Afghanistan on Polish territory.

Two previous Polish governments have vehemently denied such claims. A special EU commission investigated similar reports earlier and found insufficient evidence.

But the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, as well as Poland's ombudsman, Janusz Kochanowski, has pressed Tusk to investigate further.

"The prime minister replied ... to say that he had asked the prosecutor general to hold a detailed investigation in order to clarify the matter," a government spokesman, told the Associated Press.

He could not say when Tusk wrote to Prosecutor General Zbigniew Cwiakalski, who is also the country's justice minister or whether Tusk had any new or relevant information from the investigation.

Rafal Grupinski, an aide to Tusk, said the president requested the investigation because he saw the need for an "official reaction" to repeated calls for explanations.

Polish media quoted prosecutor Robert Majewski, from the National Prosecutor's Office, as saying only that the "issue of secret CIA prisons" is under investigation.

Majewski could not be reached on Monday for confirmation.

In 2005, Human Rights Watch, citing an analysis of flight logs of CIA aircraft that it obtained, claimed the U.S. spy agency transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

Airport officials and border guards at former military airport of Szczytno-Szymany, in northern Poland, have previously confirmed that a Boeing-made passenger jet with U.S. citizens aboard landed there Sept. 22, 2003 — the date Human Rights Watch said a Boeing 737 that was part of the prisoner transfer scheme was at the airport.

In February, the European Commission said that Poland and Romania have been dodging its requests for clarification about allegations they were involved in Washington's program of secretly transporting terror suspects to clandestine prisons.

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