Poland’s Complicity in CIA Torture Program Confirmed as European Court Rejects Warsaw’s Appeal

The European Court of Human Rights today confirmed that the Polish government was complicit in the CIA’s secretive programme of rendition, detention and interrogation.

The Court in Strasbourg today rejected a challenge from the Polish government to a landmark ruling from last July, a decision which now makes that original judgement final.

July’s judgment said that two current Guantánamo inmates, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were held in a CIA prison in Poland, that they had been subject to torture, and that Poland failed in its duty under European human rights law to protect them or investigate what happened.

Poland had requested a referral to the Court’s grand chamber, effectively appealing the decision, which could not become final while the request was pending.

The grand chamber today refused the request, but did not give any reasons.

It means that the Polish government now faces a substantial bill for damages and legal costs.

In the July judgment, both men were awarded €100,000 in damages and Abu Zubaydah another €30,000 in legal costs.

However, Abu Zubaydah’s US lawyer confirmed to the Bureau that if the money was made available they would not claim the legal costs, and that Abu Zubaydah would be donating the full €100,000 in damages to victims of torture.

Poland is the first EU member state to be found guilty of complicity in the CIA’s secret detention programme and responsible for multiple violations of the detainees’ rights.

The case concerned the treatment of the two detainees, who were held by the CIA in Poland and subjected to torture, incommunicado detention and secret transfer to other CIA black sites.

Both men were secretly rendered to Poland on December 5 2002. Al-Nashiri was taken to Morocco on June 6 2003. Abu Zubaydah was transferred from Poland to a black site in Guantánamo Bay on September 22 2003.

Helen Duffy, European lawyer for Abu Zubaydah, told the Bureau the decision means that “Poland is required to finally conduct a thorough and effective investigation, make public information concerning its role and hold those responsible to account”.

She added: “This is an opportunity for Poland to reengage constructively, to address the crimes of the past and reassert its position as a supporter of the rule of law.”

The decision comes after the Senate intelligence committee published an executive summary of its investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme last December. Al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were among the 119 detainees named in that summary report.

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