Warsaw has, for a second time in 12 months, rejected a request from the European Court of Human Rights to hand over information involving the alleged existence of secret CIA prisons operating on its territory.
The Polish government said it could not comply with a new request filed by the European court over the detention of Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, who was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison, Reuters reported Tuesday. The officials said their comments might compromise a Polish criminal investigation.
“The government takes the position that at the present stage of domestic proceedings, were they to address in detail all the questions submitted by the court, they could be seen as interfering with the competencies of the prosecution authority and the courts,” the agency reported the government as saying in its statement.
Although Poland has been applauded for being the only Eastern European country to begin its own investigation into claims of clandestine CIA prisons operating in the country, human rights activists have expressed their frustration with the lack of progress in the government’s five-year-old inquiry.
Human rights organizations say the secret prisons served for “extraordinary rendition” of suspects who were flown in from around the world without legislative oversight, and were often tortured.
Any proven participation of Polish officials in the alleged US intelligence program would be considered a crime under both Polish and international law.
In 2008, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, while falling short of admitting Poland’s participation in the CIA program, vowed that his country would never act outside the boundaries of democracy.
“This is a painful but very clear proof that no politician, even if hand-in-hand with the biggest superpower in the world, can do something that will never see the light of the day,” Tusk said. “We must act calmly, discreetly and in the spirit of responsibility for the state on this, but we can take no pride in the fact that such cases must be investigated in Poland.”
Five years later, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, the chief of Poland’s intelligence services from 2002 to 2004, was formally charged in Poland with “depriving prisoners of their liberty” in US President George W. Bush’s so-called “War on Terror.”
Investigators believe a military base in Stare Kiejkuty, northeastern Poland, was the location of one of the CIA secret prisons between December 2002 and September 2003.
Some of the terrorist suspects allegedly transferred through Poland ended up in Guantanamo Bay, where the conditions are so deplorable that a 2005 Amnesty International report dubbed it the “Gulag of our times.”