Lawyers for two men who say they were held illegally in a secret CIA jail in Poland argue that a landmark criminal investigation into the “black site” is being stalled because a trial will embarrass the Polish state.
Polish prosecutors are investigating the country’s role in a global operation run by US secret services a decade ago to transport suspected al-Qa’ida members to facilities outside the United States where they could be held and interrogated without the safeguards set out under US law.
Poland is one of only two countries known to have opened a criminal investigation into the secret jails, and the case could set a precedent for prosecutions elsewhere. If it fails, it greatly reduces the chances that the global veil over “black sites” will be lifted.
What little information has emerged suggests the case could implicate some of Poland’s most senior politicians in illegal detentions.
Lawyers and human-rights activists say the investigation appears to have ground to a halt since the original investigators were taken off the case last year. “The case is obviously, in my opinion, under political control,” said Mikolaj Pietrzak, lawyer for Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who says he was detained in a CIA jail on Polish soil. “The most convenient thing politically is for the case to drag on.”
Prosecutors say they are doing all they can to collect evidence. A spokesman for the US embassy declined to comment on the case.
The investigation, already in its fifth year, is due to end next month and prosecutors say they may apply to extend it. If they do not, the case would have to be brought to trial or closed, both risky options for Poland.