Polish prosecutors urged to probe CIA torture talk

US agents allegedly abused Abu at a now-closed secret CIA prison in Poland.

Last Updated: Dec 17, 2010, 10:37 AM IST

Warsaw: Lawyers for suspected al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah asked Polish prosecutors on Thursday to investigate allegations that US agents abused him at a now-closed secret CIA prison in Poland.

Polish officials have consistently denied the existence of CIA detention centres in Poland since the Washington Post, citing unnamed CIA sources, first reported in 2005 that such places existed in Europe as part of the US "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Former US president George W Bush wrote in his recently published memoir "Decision Points" that he authorised the use of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, on Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of involvement in a plot to attack Los Angeles airport.

"According to the information we have, Abu Zubaydah was one of those people detained and interrogated by the CIA somewhere on the territory of Poland," Polish lawyer Bartlomiej Jankowski told a news conference in Warsaw.

"Today I notified the prosecutor`s office in Warsaw (about the case)... and asked that they recognise his status as a victim because the evidence shows he was brought to Poland and was detained and interrogated here using harsh techniques."

Another suspected al Qaeda member, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, recently asked to give testimony in a Polish probe into the issue of CIA secret prisons after also saying he was held by US agents in Poland.

A Central Intelligence Agency report published last year confirmed that CIA employees used harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects that went beyond approved limits.

Zubaydah and Nashiri are both being held at the US military jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Nashiri, also captured in 2002, is accused of masterminding the 2000 attack on the American warship USS Cole in Yemen which killed 17 US sailors.

"Guinea pig"

Zubaydah`s lawyers say they think he was brought to a secret site in Poland in late 2002 and kept there for nearly a year.

"Abu Zubaydah is the first -- in fact he has been described as the guinea pig -- for the enhanced interrogation programme. All of the techniques were applied to him," Joseph Margulies, a US lawyer for Zubaydah, told the news conference.

Waterboarding was banned by Bush`s successor, President Barack Obama, shortly after he took office in 2009.

Romania and Lithuania are also alleged to have provided the CIA with facilities for detaining and possibly interrogating suspects captured by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reports by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament have confirmed Poland and Romania hosted the prisons, but Warsaw says it only allowed CIA planes to land at one of its airports for refuelling.

Bureau Report