WARSAW (Reuters) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has agreed to consider a second case against Poland over allegations it allowed the CIA to run a secret jail on its soil, intensifying pressure on Warsaw to reveal how closely it was involved in the US “war on terror”.
The Strasbourg-based court will consider an application from Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, who alleges that he was held illegally about a decade ago in a CIA-run facility on the grounds of an intelligence training academy in a Polish forest.
His case will be considered alongside one brought earlier by Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who says he was held in the same place as part of a CIA programme of “extraordinary rendition” to detain and interrogate suspected al Qaeda operatives.
According to applications submitted to court by lawyers for the two men, they were flown by private jet to a remote Polish airfield and then driven to the facility near a village called Stare Kiejkuty. While there, they say they were subjected to interrogation techniques – including water-boarding – that human rights activists say amount to torture. Polish officials deny hosting a CIA jail. Poland’s foreign ministry said it had received details of the case from the ECHR.
“Poland is obliged to reply to the complaint by the deadline of Sept. 16 this year. The case is currently being analysed by the legal services of the ministry,” it said in a statement. The twin court cases are awkward for Poland’s government: it is caught between a desire to be seen as a model of human rights and respect for the law on the one hand, and its close security relationship with the United States on the other.
The United States has acknowledged that, as part of its “war on terror” it had facilities around the world where it held al Qaeda suspects. Putting them on foreign soil meant the detainees were not entitled to the protections afforded under US law.
Washington has never disclosed the location of any of the prisons, and President Barack Obama signed an order ending their use after taking office in 2009. Both Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri are now being held in the US military jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.