Court: Poland violated human rights in CIA case

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Court: Poland violated human rights in CIA case
Visitors are not welcome to take the path to the villa in Stare Kiejkuty, where the CIA once interrogated Al Qaida suspects in northern Poland. (Roy Gutman/MCT via Getty Images)
Stare Kiejkuty, a village in northern Poland, houses the Polish intelligence training academy. It was here that the CIA took over the big old villa on the property, allegedly to torture Al Qaida suspects flown into a small airstrip nearby. (Roy Gutman/MCT via Getty Images)
This picture taken on October 19, 2010 shows the Szczytno-Szymany airport in Szymany. Poland has charged its former spy chief as part of a probe into claims it hosted a CIA 'black site' where suspected Al-Qaeda members were allegedly tortured, a newspaper reported on March 28, 2012. Polish prosecutors launched an investigation in August 2008 into allegations that Warsaw had allowed the US Central Intelligence Agency to operate a secret prison on its soil to interrogate top suspects in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Polish campaigners said in July that they had obtained official records about seven CIA planes -- five of them carrying passengers -- which landed in 2002 and 2003 at Szymany, a Polish military base in northeast Poland. AFP PHOTO/PAP/Artur Reszko POLAND OUT / EASTNEWS OUT (Photo credit should read Artur Reszko/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on October 19, 2010 shows the Szczytno-Szymany airport in Szymany. Poland has charged its former spy chief as part of a probe into claims it hosted a CIA 'black site' where suspected Al-Qaeda members were allegedly tortured, a newspaper reported on March 28, 2012. Polish prosecutors launched an investigation in August 2008 into allegations that Warsaw had allowed the US Central Intelligence Agency to operate a secret prison on its soil to interrogate top suspects in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Polish campaigners said in July that they had obtained official records about seven CIA planes -- five of them carrying passengers -- which landed in 2002 and 2003 at Szymany, a Polish military base in northeast Poland. AFP PHOTO/PAP/Artur Reszko POLAND OUT / EASTNEWS OUT (Photo credit should read Artur Reszko/AFP/Getty Images)
An exterior view of the Office of the National Register for Secret State Information, or ORNISS, which stores confidential information and ensures only authorised people gain access to it, taken in Bucharest on December 8, 2011. According to an investigation revealed by German media on December 8, the CIA used a clandestine detention centre in Bucharest to interrogate terror suspects believed to have links to Al-Qaeda, including the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The prison, used between 2003 and 2006, was in the cellar of a government building in a northwestern residential neighbourhood of the Romanian capital, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and ARD public television said. Journalists from the two media organisations, as well as the Associated Press news agency, said the centre was identified in photos by former CIA operatives active in Bucharest. Although the existence of a so-called 'black site' in Romania, set up by the Central Intelligence Agency as part of its clandestine counter-terrorism operations, has long been suspected, its location was unknown. Just days before the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Council of Europe's human rights chief urged Poland, Romania and Lithuania to lift the lid on CIA 'black sites' where detainees were allegedly tortured on their soil. In ARD's Panorama programme, due to be broadcast later Thursday, an ORNISS official denied the prison had existed on its premises, according to a statement from the television station. Romania has vehemently denied hosting such a site. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
An exterior view of the Office of the National Register for Secret State Information, or ORNISS, which stores confidential information and ensures only authorised people gain access to it, taken in Bucharest on December 8, 2011. According to an investigation revealed by German media on December 8, the CIA used a clandestine detention centre in Bucharest to interrogate terror suspects believed to have links to Al-Qaeda, including the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The prison, used between 2003 and 2006, was in the cellar of a government building in a northwestern residential neighbourhood of the Romanian capital, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and ARD public television said. Journalists from the two media organisations, as well as the Associated Press news agency, said the centre was identified in photos by former CIA operatives active in Bucharest. Although the existence of a so-called 'black site' in Romania, set up by the Central Intelligence Agency as part of its clandestine counter-terrorism operations, has long been suspected, its location was unknown. Just days before the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Council of Europe's human rights chief urged Poland, Romania and Lithuania to lift the lid on CIA 'black sites' where detainees were allegedly tortured on their soil. In ARD's Panorama programme, due to be broadcast later Thursday, an ORNISS official denied the prison had existed on its premises, according to a statement from the television station. Romania has vehemently denied hosting such a site. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken Nov.4, 2005 shows the control tower at the airport of Szczytno-Szymany in northeastern Poland. Flight registers obtained by human rights groups from Poland's air navigation authorities show that jet planes linked to the CIA made at least six landings at the airport in 2003. According to a Human Rights Watch says the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era compounds in Eastern Europe, includign Poland. ( AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
This picture taken on Nov.4,2005 shows the view from the control tower at the airport of Szczytno-Szymany in northeastern Poland. Flight registers obtained by human rights groups from Poland's air navigation authorities show that jet planes linked to the CIA made at least six landings at the airport in 2003. According to a Human Rights Watch says the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era compounds in Eastern Europe, includign Poland. ( AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2005 file photo a watch tower overlooks the area near the Polish intelligence school just outside of Stare Kiejkuty, Poland. The installation has become the focal point of allegations of secret CIA prisons in Poland. For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country's politicians, journalists and the public. But a heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed. Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday, March 29, 2012, that Poland has become the "political victim" of leaks from U.S. officials that brought to light aspects of the secret rendition program. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)
A view inside the tower at the airport of Szczytno-Szymany in northeastern Poland Friday, Nov. 4, 2005. According to a Human Rights Watch report quoted in the Washington Post, an alleged CIA plane landed on Sept. 23, 2003, and says that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era compounds in Eastern Europe. ( AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
FILE - This Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005 file photo shows the control tower of the airport in Szymany, in northeastern Poland. Prosecutors are investigating possible abuse of power by Polish public officials in connection with the closed CIA black site near the secluded Szymany airport in northeast Poland. Flight logs trace several landings of planes linked to the CIA there. A human rights organization and lawyers for a Saudi man accused in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole demanded Tuesday Sept. 21, 2010 that Polish prosecutors investigate the terror suspect's detention and treatment at a CIA prison once housed in Poland. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is the first detainee subjected to the CIA's detention and interrogation program who has taken legal action in Poland, said Amrit Singh, the Open Society Justice Initiative's senior legal officer. (AP Photo, File) ** POLAND OUT **
FILE - This Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005 file photo shows the runway and control tower of the airport in Szymany, in northeastern Poland. Europe's top human rights court ruled Thursday that Poland violated the rights of two terror suspects by allowing the CIA to secretly imprison them on Polish soil from 2002-2003 and facilitating the conditions under which they were subject to torture. (AP Photo, File) POLAND OUT
US military personal walk past an US air force C130 parked on the Mihail Kogalniceanu airfield as others unload supplies, near the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, 270 kilometers east of Bucharest, Friday Feb. 21 2003. Human Rights Watch in New York said Thursday Nov. 3 2005 it had evidence indicating the CIA transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania. The conclusion is based on an analysis of flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004 obtained by the group, said Mark Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the organization. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, ROMANIA: Commandor Dan Buciuman, the chief-in-command of Military Air Base nr. 86, near Mihail Kogalniceanu village (250km East from Bucharest) gestures during an interview with AFP, 04 November 2005. On Wednesday, The Washington Post said the CIA was running a network of secret facilities for captured terror suspects in eight countries, outside the reach of the US justice system. The rights group Human Rights Watch said it believed Poland and Romania had cooperated with the CIA based on flight records and other evidence. One of the places mentioned to be used as prison for terror suspects is Air Base 86, which was providing logistics support during the Iraq war and is supposed also to became a NATO base. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, ROMANIA: Military maintenance personnel push an helicopter at the Aerian Military Base nr. 86 near the village of Mihail Kogalniceanu, some 250kms East of Bucharest, 04 November 2005. Flight records and other evidence points to Poland and Romania as countries that allowed their territory to be used by the CIA to hold top suspected Al-Qaeda captives, a Human Rights Watch director said 03 November. Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of the human rights group, said the evidence, though circumstantial, strongly pointed to Poland and Romania as being among the unidentified eastern European countries referred to in a Washington Post report Wednesday on secret CIA-run prisons. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Bucharest, ROMANIA: (FILES) This file picture taken 08 September 2003 at Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest shows Romanian President Ion Iliescu (L) speaking with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. A report by Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty said 08 June 2007 that the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005 to interrogate terror suspects under a programme authorized by the countries' presidents. He said former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Romania's former leader Ion Iliescu as well as current President Traian Basescu authorised the programme and should be held accountable. AFP PHOTO/FILES/DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Bucharest, ROMANIA: (FILES) -- File picture dated 15 December 2004 shows Romanian president-elect at the time Traian Basescu (L) talking to his predecessor, Ion Iliescu, during the inauguration of the December 1989 revolution heroes memorial in Bucharest's Revolution Square. A report by Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty said 08 June 2007 that the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005 to interrogate terror suspects under a programme authorized by the countries' presidents. He said former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Romania's former leader Ion Iliescu as well as current President Traian Basescu authorised the programme and should be held accountable. AFP PHOTO/PETRUT CALINESCU (Photo credit should read PETRUT CALINESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
U. S. President George W. Bush adjusts his translation earpiece at a press conference with Panama's President Martin Torrijos, not pictured, at the Casa Amarilla in Panama City, Panama, Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture. Panama is the last stop in a week of Latin American diplomacy for Bush that included the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, and a visit to Brazil. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
A protester wears a mask in the likeness of former U.S. President George W. Bush and holds out his hands covered with fake blood during a demonstration by activists from Amnesty International who are demanding Bush's arrest, for human rights crimes, during his upcoming trip to Canada, outside the Canadian embassy in Lima, Peru, Thursday Oct. 20, 2011. The sign behind reads in Spanish "Simulated drowning is torture." (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
U. S. President George Bush shakes hands with Panama's President Martin Torrijos, right, at the close of a press conference at the Casa Amarilla in Panama City, Panama, Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture. Panama is the last stop in a week of Latin American diplomacy for Bush that included the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, and a visit to Brazil. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
A protestor dressed up as a U.S. soldier, right, simulates the torturing of a mock prisoner during a demonstration in Mainz, western Germany, against the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush to Mainz, on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People hold some selfmade " puppets " to protest against torture in prisons at a demonstration against the visit of US President George W. Bush to the Baltic Sea port town of Stralsund, eastern Germany, Thursday, July 13, 2006. Bush is in eastern Germany for an official visit before he will take part in the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)
A South Korean student wearing a mask of U.S. President George W. Bush aims a toy gun at a mock-up of a tortured Iraqi prisoner during an anti-U.S. rally to mark the second anniversary of the death of two South Korean girls hit by a U.S. armored vehicle in downtown in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, June 12, 2004. Protesters also opposed South Korea's plans to deploy 3,600 troops to an area around Irbil in northern Iraq by late August. The Korean letters say on the cloth "Do you want to become a slaughterer." (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), center, Senator Patrick 'Pat' Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, right, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, arrive to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), center, talks to Senator Patrick 'Pat' Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, right, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former President George Bush (L) bids farewell to Tanzania First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete (R) and husband President Jakaya Kikwete (C) at State House on December 1, 2011 in Dar es Salaam. Bush received a warm welcome in Tanzania yesterday on the first stop on an African philanthropic tour, despite a rights group's call for the former US president's arrest on torture charges. Bush, accompanied by his wife Laura, will also travel to Zambia and Ethiopia on a five-day trip aimed at promoting efforts to fight diseases like cancer, AIDS and malaria. AFP PHOTO / JOHN LUKUWI (Photo credit should read JOHN LUKUWI/AFP/Getty Images)
People protest on Easter Monday, March 24, 2008, in The Hague against the US invasion of Iraq and the consequent war in Iraq, while in costumes depicting US President George W. Bush (R) and a tortured prisoner from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. AFP PHOTO / ANP PHOTO INGE VAN MILL netherlands out - belgium out (Photo credit should read INGE VAN MILL/AFP/Getty Images)
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, ROMANIA: A soldier rides his bike past obsolete MIG29 fighter jets at the Aerian Military Base nr. 86, near the village of Mihail Kogalniceanu, some 250kms East of Bucharest, 04 November 2005. Flight records and other evidence points to Poland and Romania as countries that allowed their territory to be used by the CIA to hold top suspected Al-Qaeda captives, a Human Rights Watch director said 03 November. Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of the human rights group, said the evidence, though circumstantial, strongly pointed to Poland and Romania as being among the unidentified eastern European countries referred to in a Washington Post report Wednesday on secret CIA-run prisons. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Paris, FRANCE: Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty gives a press conference 07 June 2007 at the Council of Europe headquarters in Paris. Fourteen European countries colluded in or tolerated the secret transfer of terrorist suspects by the United States, and two of them -- Poland and Romania -- may have harboured CIA detention centres, according to a Council of Europe report released today. AFP PHOTO DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)
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By VANESSA GERA

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Europe's top human rights court ruled Thursday that Poland violated the rights of two terror suspects by allowing the CIA to secretly imprison them on Polish soil from 2002-2003 and facilitating the conditions under which they were subject to torture.

The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights marked the first time any court has passed judgment on the so-called "renditions program" that President George W. Bush launched after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The court, based in Strasbourg, France, said Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to stop the "torture and inhuman or degrading treatment" of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, who were transported to Poland in 2002.

CIA Prison In Poland Could Spell Trouble For Other Nations


It ordered Poland to pay 130,000 euros ($175,000) to Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect, and 100,000 euros ($135,000) to al-Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors.

Poland's Foreign Ministry said it could not immediately comment because its legal experts still needed to examine the more than 400-page ruling. It also said it had not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling to the Grand Chamber of the Court.

But President Bronislaw Komorowski called the judgment "embarrassing" to Poland, and damaging both financially and to its image.

It a statement explaining its ruling, the court said the interrogations and ill-treatment of the suspects at the facility in Stare Kiekuty, a remote village in northern Poland, was "the exclusive responsibility of the CIA and it was unlikely that the Polish officials had witnessed or known exactly what happened inside the facility."

It argued, however, that Poland should have ensured that individuals held in its jurisdiction would not be subjected to degrading treatment. "For all practical purposes, Poland had facilitated the whole process, had created the conditions for it to happen and had made no attempt to prevent it from occurring," the court said.

The court also faulted Poland for failing to conduct an effective investigation into the matter. The government launched an investigation in 2008 but there are no signs that it is close to coming to a conclusion.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said the ruling was premature and that Poland should have been given the chance to make its own ruling first.

However, the human rights lawyers who brought the case to Strasbourg did so "after it became clear that Polish domestic investigations were turning into a cover-up," said Reprieve, a U.K-based legal group that represented Zubaydah in the case.

The lawyers for both suspects hailed the ruling.

"This is a historic ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which has become the first court to confirm the existence of a secret CIA torture center on Polish soil between 2002 and 2003, where our client Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was held and tortured," said Amrit Singh, a lawyer at the Open Society Justice Initiative who represented al-Nashiri.

One of Zubaydah's lawyesr, Joseph Margulies, said: "It's always gratifying when a court speaks truth to power. The question now is whether Poland will listen. The rule of law demands more than words on a page. It demands justice."

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