- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WARSAW | A human rights organization and attorneys for a Saudi man accused in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole demanded this week that Polish prosecutors investigate the terrorism suspect’s detention and treatment at a CIA prison once housed in Poland.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is the first detainee subjected to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program who has taken legal action in Poland, said Amrit Singh, a senior legal officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Mikolaj Pietrzak, a lawyer who represents Mr. al-Nashiri in Poland, told the Associated Press he filed the petition Tuesday with prosecutors in Warsaw.

The legal move in Poland could spawn similar efforts in Romania and Lithuania, which former U.S. intelligence officials and critics have identified as nations that hosted some of the CIA’s so-called “black sites.”

Public outcry against the abandoned CIA program remains strong in Europe, while attorneys for detainees and civil-liberties activists have had limited success in U.S. courts in shedding new light on the secret prisons.

“We hope that the prosecutor will heed this call for a serious investigation into al-Nashiri’s ill-treatment on Polish soil,” Mr. Singh said. “The quest for accountability for the CIA’s illegal rendition program must continue in Europe, especially as U.S. courts appear to be closing their doors to victims of this program.”

Polish prosecutors already have been examining the country’s involvement in a now-shuttered U.S. system of secret prisons around the globe. Inside the black sites, terrorism detainees were said to have been exposed to harsh interrogation methods, such as the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding — a practice that critics have characterized as “torture.”

Prosecutor Jerzy Mierzewski in Warsaw said Mr. Pietrzak’s petition would likely be wrapped into his office’s overall probe.

“It does not require the opening of a separate investigation,” he said, adding that he still had to study the documents.

The prosecutors are investigating possible abuse of power by Polish public officials in connection with the closed CIA black site near the secluded Szymany airport in northeast Poland.

Flight logs trace several landings of planes linked to the CIA there. Prosecutors have been looking into the site since 2008, but have not yet filed charges.

Polish media have reported that prosecutors are considering war-crimes charges against former President Aleksander Kwasniewski and two other officials in connection with the CIA prison site.

Mr. Kwasniewski, Poland’s president from 1995 to 2005, has said he was unaware of the CIA prison.

Following the AP’s report earlier this month on Mr. al-Nashiri’s treatment, Leszek Miller, Poland’s prime minister at the time, flatly denied the existence of any such facility, saying there were “no secret CIA prisons in Poland.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Miller told the AP in a telephone interview he had no comment on the petition or on whether Poland housed a CIA secret prison.

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