International Law

Report: CIA Ran Secret Prisons in Europe

The Central Intelligence Agency reportedly ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005, with the collaboration of U.S. allies, in violation of European human rights treaties. However, officials in all of the countries involved said the claim of secret prisons used to interrogate al-Quaida suspects is untrue and unsubstantiated.

“Of course, I organized everything and gave them a red-carpet welcome,” Jerzy Szmajdzinski, defense minister in Poland from 2001 to 2005, sarcastically told AP, declining to comment further about “political fiction.”

Masked guards, naked prisoners, extreme temperatures, shackling, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and poor food were routine in the clandestine CIA-run lock-ups, claims a report by Swiss Sen. Dick Marty, who investigated 2005 media reports of secret prisons for the Council of Europe. It can expel members who violate human rights accords, but otherwise has no power to sanction them.

Although a European Union spokesman says the 27-nation group has “repeatedly stressed the need for the member states concerned to commence or continue in-depth, independent and impartial investigations,” sanctions against Poland and Romania are unlikely because the secret prisons would have to be proven to the EU beyond a reasonable doubt, the AP article says.

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