- Associated Press - Thursday, January 20, 2011

WARSAW | Lawyers for a Palestinian terrorism suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay have won the right to review evidence and call witnesses in a criminal investigation about a secret CIA prison in Poland where terror suspects allegedly were abused.

The case is being closely watched by human rights groups because Poland is the only country known to be investigating the secret CIA operation that spirited terrorism suspects across the globe and subjected them to harsh interrogation methods after Sept. 11, 2001.

Polish prosecutor Robert Majewski said Thursday that suspect Abu Zubaydah, an alleged facilitator for al Qaeda, has received so-called “victim status” in the criminal investigation into the CIA prison in Poland. That gives his lawyers access to proceedings and allows them to review evidence and call witnesses.

Mr. Majewski said victim status does not necessarily mean the investigation will conclude that the suspect was abused in Poland.

“Until there is a court verdict, these are only allegations,” he said. “It may come out in the course of the investigation that he is not a victim. The investigation will show whether these facts took place indeed.”

But Mr. Zubaydah’s lawyers argue that he would not be granted victim status without credible evidence that he was held and abused in Poland.

Bartlomiej Jankowski, Mr. Zubaydah’s Polish lawyer, urged the United States to cooperate with Polish investigators by allowing Mr. Zubaydah to testify in the case, either in person in Poland or from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“It is impossible to speak about justice in this case without hearing the victims as witnesses, whether directly in Poland or at least by video conference,” Mr. Jankowski said.

Last week, Lithuanian prosecutors closed a criminal investigation into a secret CIA detention center in that small northern European country, citing a lack of evidence, a move strongly criticized by human rights groups Amnesty International and Reprieve.

The Polish criminal investigation is looking at whether Polish political leaders in power at the time illegally allowed the CIA prison to operate. The probe was launched more than two years ago and it is not clear when it will end.