United States Should Release Information on CIA Black Site to Polish Prosecutor, Says Rights Group

NEW YORK—The United States government should comply with requests from Polish prosecutors for legal assistance and information regarding Guantanamo detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was imprisoned and tortured on Polish soil, the Open Society Justice Initiative said today. 

The requests relate to an ongoing criminal investigation into CIA black sites in Poland. Polish lawyers cooperating with the Justice Initiative simultaneously issued a letter to Prime Minister Donald Tusk seeking his support for the requests. Al-Nashiri is the first victim of the CIA's rendition program to pursue legal remedies in Poland.

“The United States government should swiftly respond to the Polish prosecutor’s requests for information on CIA black sites,” said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Justice Initiative. “The allegations of human rights abuses associated with the CIA’s illegal rendition program must be properly investigated to secure justice for the victims and prevent future misconduct.”

Prosecutors in Warsaw have been investigating the possible abuse of power by Polish public officials with regard to a CIA black site since March 2008. In connection with their investigation, the prosecutors have reportedly requested information and other assistance from U.S. authorities, which have been denied.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Justice Initiative called for prosecutors to be provided with the help they need on al-Nashiri’s case to ensure that Polish officials who engaged in wrongful acts are held accountable.

“Mr. al-Nashiri has the right to an effective investigation of his claims in Poland, and the United States government must not interfere with that right,” said Amrit Singh, senior legal officer with the Justice Initiative. “The U.S. government’s attempts to evade accountability at home must not extend to Poland.”

Multiple public sources confirm that al-Nashiri was detained and tortured in a secret CIA site some time between 2002 and 2006, probably in Stare Kiejkuty in northeast Poland, not far from Szymany airport, which he was flown in and out of by CIA-contracted flights. In September 2010, Polish lawyers cooperating with the Justice Initiative filed an application on al-Nashiri’s behalf before Polish prosecutors, and in October, the prosecutors granted him victim status in the pending investigation. The investigation has not yet led to any charges thus far.

Al-Nashiri is represented in Poland by advocate Mikołaj Pietrzak of the Pietrzak & Sidor law office in Warsaw and in the United States by Nancy Hollander and Lt. Commander Stephen C. Reyes.

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The Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies.