Lawyers for two Guantanamo detainees, arguing before the European Court of Human Rights [official website] on Tuesday, accused Poland of serving as a secret torture site for the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) [official website] extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive]. The case [Al Jazeera report] involves 48-year-old Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national facing terror charges in connection with the al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and 42-year-old Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian who has never been charged with a crime. According to their lawyers, Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were victims of the CIA's enhanced interrogation and waterboarding techniques [Guardian report], as well as mock executions. Crofton Black, a researcher with the human rights organization Reprieve and witness to the closed trial, called the Polish government's investigation [JURIST report] into the matter nothing more than a smoke-screen.
Under the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, terrorism suspects were seized and flown to secret locations outside the US for interrogation and imprisonment. Poland allegedly housed the largest CIA detention facility in Europe [JURIST report], but has previously denied any connection to the program. In addition to Poland, Romania and Lithuania [JURIST reports] are alleged to have housed secret CIA facilities. On his third day in office in 2009, US President Barack Obama ordered the closure [JURIST report] of all CIA secret prisons. In February 2007, the European Parliament condemned more than a dozen European states [JURIST report] for their roles in the program. Then-US President George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of the secret facilities [JURIST report] in September 2006 but provided no details on their locations or operation.