28th May 2022

Poland in fresh probe on CIA jail claims

Poland has launched an internal probe into old allegations that it hosted a secret prison used by the CIA to move terrorist suspects around the world.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has "asked the prosecutor general to hold a detailed investigation to clarify the matter," his spokesman told AP on Monday (25 August).

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  • Did the US ship suspects via Poland's Szymany airport to Guantanamo Bay? (Photo: Wikipedia)

The National Prosecutor's Office had earlier said the probe is about "CIA prisons," refusing to confirm if it began three weeks ago or as far back as January.

The investigation into secret prisons is itself shrouded in secrecy, prompting speculation and anonymous leaks in the Polish media over the past couple of days.

Radio station RMF reported that prosecutors want to call former left-wing president Aleksander Kwasniewski and his prime minister, Leszek Miller, as witnesses.

Weekly magazine Wprost says the former rightist Kaczynski-twin government hushed up documents showing that Mr Kwasniewski's team allowed the jails from 2001 to 2004.

"It's like playing with a live hand grenade," the Dziennik newspaper quoted a "senior intelligence source" as saying on the potential political and national security fallout.

"The investigation should be fully transparent. The prosecutor's findings will be credible only if there is strong parliamentary oversight," Socialist MEP Jozef Pinior told Gazeta Wyborcza.

Revelations about the CIA's practice of snatching and torturing terrorist suspects illegally but with the consent of friendly governments round the world first broke in 2005.

A special European Parliament committee, in which Mr Pinior took part, found in February 2007 that 14 EU states including Poland allowed thousands of suspect US flights.

A report by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in June 2007 said Poland and Romania housed CIA jails between 2003 and 2005, but failed to provide hard evidence.

Also in June, the New York Times quoted a CIA source saying the "most important" of its "black sites" in the years after 9/11 was in Szymany, some 160km north of Warsaw.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

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The new draft European Parliament report is an update to the 2018 report which triggered the Article 7 procedure against Hungary, a sanctions probe aiming to rein in member states that break EU rules and values.

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