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Torture alleged at secret prison in Poland

8th September 2010
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A former CIA officer has been implicated in allegations of torture at a secret prison in Poland

Leszek Miller (left) and Aleksander Kwaśniewski were prime minister and president, respectively, when the CIA allegedly tortured prisoners on Polish soil
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Torture took place at the secret prison allegedly used by the CIA in Stare Kiejkuty, in northeastern Poland, the Associated Press has reported. According to the newswire, a former CIA officer used extreme measures to interrogate a prisoner in Poland in late 2002 and early 2003.

A CIA agent identified as Albert used questioning techniques unauthorized by the US Justice Department while interrogating Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind behind the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. According to the AP, the officer “wielded” a bitless drill and unloaded a semi-automatic handgun next to the head of the prisoner, who had been left naked and hooded.

The incident was outlined in the CIA Inspector General's special review of the agency's detention and interrogation program, parts of which were declassified last year.

Several former intelligence officers anonymously quoted by the AP identified Albert as a former FBI agent of Egyptian descent who later joined the CIA. He and his supervisor at the time, known as Mike, were reprimanded for their involvement in the incident. After retiring, Albert returned as a contractor to train CIA operatives, although he apparently no longer operates in this capacity.

Mr al-Nashiri is now being held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He was captured in Dubai in November 2002 and was allegedly taken to a secret prison in Poland in December 2002, where he was interrogated until January 2003.

A number of sources – including the New York Times, the Washington Post and a 2007 report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – have stated with certainty that the CIA operated a “black site” in Poland between 2002 and 2005. However, representatives of all Polish governments since that time have denied this or avoided commenting on the issue.

“There has been and still is intelligence cooperation between Poland and the US. There were no secret CIA prisons in Poland. I have nothing more to say,” former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski said in 2008.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk proved equally reticent when responding to questions about the latest allegations.

“You will not get me to talk about this. The case is being investigated by prosecutors,” PM Donald Tusk said on Wednesday during his trip to India and Vietnam. “National interest forces me to be discreet.”

The Polish National Public Prosecutor's Office is currently investigating whether those in power at the time did not overstep their authority by letting the US keep prisoners suspected of terrorism on Polish territory. According to previous CIA reports, other suspects (such as Al-Qaeda officer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) were also held in Poland. Former US President George W Bush ordered the sites to be closed in 2006.

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