Washington: In northern Bucharest, in a busy
residential neighbourhood minutes from the heart of the
capital city, is a secret the Romanian government has long
tried to protect.
For years, the CIA used a government building codenamed
"Bright Light" as a makeshift prison for its most valuable
There it held al Qaeda operatives Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,
the mastermind of 9/11, and others in a basement prison before
they were ultimately transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in
2006, according to former US intelligence officials familiar
with the location and inner workings of the prison.
The existence of a CIA prison in Romania has been widely
reported, but its location has never been made public.
The Associated Press and German public television ARD
located the former prison and learned details of the facility
where harsh interrogation tactics were used. ARD`s programme
on the CIA prison is set to air today.
The Romanian prison was part of a network of so-called
black sites that the CIA operated and controlled overseas in
Thailand, Lithuania and Poland. All the prisons were closed by
May 2006, and the CIA`s detention and interrogation program
ended in 2009.
Unlike the CIA`s facility in Lithuania`s countryside or
the one hidden in a Polish military installation, the CIA`s
prison in Romania was not in a remote location. It was hidden
in plain sight, a couple blocks off a major boulevard on a
street lined with trees and homes, along busy train tracks.
The building is used as the National Registry Office for
Classified Information, which is also known as ORNISS.
Classified information from NATO and the European Union
is stored there. Former intelligence officials both described
the location of the prison and identified pictures of the
In an interview at the building in November, senior
ORNISS official Adrian Camarasan said the basement is one of
the most secure rooms in all of Romania. But he said Americans
never ran a prison there.
"No, no. Impossible, impossible," he said in an ARD
interview for its "Panorama" news broadcast, as a security
official monitored the interview.
The CIA prison opened for business in the fall of 2003,
after the CIA decided to empty the black site in Poland,
according to former US officials, who spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the
detention programme with reporters.