24th Sep 2023

CIA sleuth MEPs snubbed in Poland

MEPs have singled out Poland as the least cooperative EU state in an investigation into alleged CIA prisons and rendition flights, after a three day trip to Warsaw produced only vague, contradictory information from low-ranking officials.

"I feel obliged to note the difference between the cooperation we were offered in Romania two weeks ago and what we have experienced on our visit to Poland," Portuguese conservative MEP Carlos Coelho said at the European Commission's office in Warsaw on Friday (11 November).

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  • Warsaw: gave short shrift to crusading MEPs (Photo: European Commission)

"I would like to remind you that under Article 6 of the EU treaty...lack of respect for fundamental human rights can lead to triggering Article 7 of the treaty...on suspension of voting rights," he added.

Italian socialist MEP Claudio Fava pointed out that Warsaw did not put forward any cabinet minister or member of the Polish parliament for interviews and that the Polish parliament did not hold its own enquiry, as was the case in Romania and the UK.

Mr Fava also complained that authorities at the Szymanow airport in northern Poland - around which suspicions centre - could not provide any flight records, unlike all of the other CIA rendition-suspect states in the probe.

One contact, former Szymanow airport boss Jerzy Kos told Mr Fava that a suspect flight by Boeing 737 N313 on 22 September 2003 never landed at the airport, while a government official, Marek Pasionek, said the flight could not be inspected after it had landed at Szymanow "because it was dark."

MEPs also circulated a list of 11 names of Polish officials and journalists who had either been invited to give evidence but declined, or who had wanted to give evidence but were blocked from doing so by the Polish government.

No evidence yet

The year-long investigation, sparked by allegations from NGO Human Rights Watch in late 2005, has orgainsed over 60 hearings in Brussels and carried out several foreign trips costing "hundreds of hours," but has yet to find any hard evidence of wrongdoing despite having just weeks left to run.

The probe has centred around Poland, Romania, the UK, pre-Zapatero Spain and Berlusconi-era Italy so far, with all five governments being staunch security allies of Bush's Washington, which has admitted it takes terror suspects worldwide in its "rendition" programme.

Mr Coelho also pleaded for the CIA enquiry - which always makes the headlines - not to be used as a political weapon in Poland's domestic local elections this Sunday, where the governing Law and Justice party is neck-and-neck with the opposition in opinion polls.

Poland is currently in the midst of its own spy-type row with the US after a government leak saw a sensitive document reach press, containing information on Poland's North Korea diplomacy and suggesting Washington is pushing Warsaw to sack an anti-Iraq minister.

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