‘The Moral High Ground’: Poland Charges Former Intelligence Chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski over Secret CIA Torture Prison
Poland has become the first country to press charges against one of its officials over involvement in secret CIA torture prisons on its soil.
The Washington Post and Gazeta Wyborcza report that former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski has ben charged with exceeding his powers, depriving prisoners of war of their freedom and allowing corporal punishment.
Siemiatkowski, who headed Poland’s Intelligence Agency from 2002 until 2004, would not confirm nor deny the charges against him.
“I cannot comment because all the proceedings are a state secret. I can neither negate nor confirm,” he said.
The charges make Poland the first country to attempt to bring to justice officials who aided the United States in its illegal extraordinary rendition and torture programs during the War on Terror launched by the Bush administration in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Investigators are determining whether Poland’s leaders, including former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, illegally allowed the CIA to operate a so-called “black site,” a secret prison in which terror suspects were allegedly tortured. Polish authorities have already admitted to participating in CIA renditions.
Former CIA agents have told the Associated Press that such a secret prison did indeed operate in Poland from 2002 to 2003 and that prisoners were tortured there. The Council of Europe and the UN also say the “black site” existed in Poland. But former Polish leaders deny this.
Two detainees imprisoned in the US concentration camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba have been accorded victim status in the Polish investigation. They are Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi who allegedly masterminded the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and alleged al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaydah. Both men were tortured; Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times with the approval of then- National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
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