Abu Zubaydah case to be included in CIA secret prison investigation in Poland

The TVP Polish public television channel reports that Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers will give a press conference on Thursday, where they will outline details of his claims that he was detained and tortured in Poland. The lawyers will ask the public prosecutor to give AZ victim status, just like Al Nashiri.
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  1. Guantanamo detainee lawyers ask Poles for probe

    (AP) – 2 hours ago

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Lawyers for a Guantanamo terrorism suspect asked Polish authorities Thursday to open an investigation into allegations that American agents abused him at a now-shuttered secret CIA prison in Poland.

    Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers said they want to shed light on a system of abuse by the CIA, which remains clouded in secrecy. Options for bringing such cases to U.S. courts have been closed off in recent years, and Zubaydah’s lawyers see Poland as perhaps the only country worldwide that might be willing to investigate the matter.

    “Since 9/11, America has become a dark and angry place and if the rule of law is to be vindicated, it has to start here,” Joseph Margulies, an American lawyer for Zubaydah, said at a news conference in Warsaw.

    Zubaydah’s legal team filed two separate motions with prosecutors in Warsaw.

    One asks for Polish authorities to broaden an investigation into whether Polish authorities abused their power by allowing the secret CIA prison to operate in their country, by considering Zubaydah a victim in the probe, Polish lawyer Bartlomiej Jankowski said.

    Another terror suspect, Abd al-Nashiri, received such victim status recently in the Polish investigation, a move that allows his lawyers to participate in the larger investigation by reviewing evidence and calling witnesses. It was not clear when prosecutors would decide on the motions in Zubaydah’s case.

    The CIA operated the prison from December 2002 until the fall of 2003, where prisoners were subjected to harsh questioning and waterboarding, former CIA officials have told The Associated Press. Human rights groups say they believe that probably eight terror suspects were held there based upon flight logs from CIA planes in and out of airport near the site in Stare Kiejkuty. Alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is also believed to have once been there, but not all the other names are known.

    A second request asks for a separate investigation into what happened to Zubaydah in Poland.

    The current investigation into abuse of power is classified as secret by the Polish state and none of the conclusions so far have been revealed and Jankowski said that the legal team hopes a separate investigation would allow the public to receive more information about what is discovered.

    Zubaydah’s lawyers say they believe he was brought to a secret site in Poland in late 2002 and kept there up to 10 months. Margulies said he was subjected to all of the harsh interrogation techniques used on terror suspects in the secret rendition system.

    “Abu Zubaydah is the first — in fact, he has been described as the guinea pig — for the enhanced interrogation program,” Margulies said. “All of the techniques were applied to him. In fact, no one else endured all of the techniques.”

  2. International lawyers have launched legal action in Poland on behalf of Abu Zubaydah, the first victim of the CIA’s experimental torture programme, regarding crimes committed in the CIA’s ‘most important’ secret prison in Stare Kiejkuty, Poland.

    Polish lawyer Bartlomiej Jankowski — working with the British human rights charities INTERIGHTS and Reprieve as well as U.S. lawyers Joseph Margulies and Brent Mickum — today begins a legal battle to hold officials accountable for their key contribution to the CIA’s extraordinary rendition and enhanced interrogation programme.

    Two applications for former ‘high-value detainee’ Abu Zubaydah, lodged with the Appeals Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw and District Prosecutor in Mazury, provide official notification of crimes committed against him while he was held by the CIA in Poland, and request that Abu Zubaydah be formally recognized as a victim in the ongoing investigation into abuse of office by Polish officials, and any criminal investigations that may follow.

    The applications establish that Abu Zubaydah was transferred from Thailand to Poland by the CIA on 5 December 2002 and was held there for nine or ten months. The documents lodged today include evidence of:

    • The roles played by CIA agents and Polish officials in the CIA programme in Poland;
    • The rendition flights that transported Abu Zubaydah into and out of Poland;
    • The private companies involved in those flights; and
    • The operation of the CIA’s secret prison site at Stare Kiejkuty.

    Within the “spider’s web” of criminality in the CIA ‘black sites’, the secret prison at Stare Kiejkuty, Poland was “the most important one”, according to A.B. Krongard, the Agency’s former Executive Director.

    The Polish government must now lift the regime of state secrecy about Stare Kiejkuty or risk committing further violations of international law. Currently, no information is available about the scope of the Polish investigation. Public reports suggest that high-level officials and other implicated individuals have sought to shield themselves from inquiry by invoking state secrets.

    Abu Zubaydah and his lawyers are now seeking access to the Prosecutor’s investigation files and the right to take part in the investigation. They are requesting that Abu Zubaydah be recognized as a victim of torture and unlawful detention in Poland and that he is granted all of the rights of a victim under Polish and international law, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture.

    Prime Minister Donald Tusk should immediately ensure that the Prosecutor has access to all current and former government officials. Mr Tusk must also ensure that all current and former Polish officials are allowed to provide evidence to the investigation and that the Prosecutor has the power to compel evidence from all offices of the Polish government, including all of the security services and all current and former officials.

    Polish Prosecutors should open a new investigation into the crimes alleged by Abu Zubaydah.

    Today’s legal action is an essential part of efforts to establish the truth of the crimes perpetrated against Abu Zubaydah and others. Until all European states initiate effective investigations, it will not be possible to establish the truth of the CIA’s programme. European governments were instrumental in the programme’s operation, and have substantial and urgent legal obligations to provide robust and transparent investigations that uncover the facts and hold the perpetrators responsible.

    All eyes are on Poland to see if they are willing and able to rise to the challenge.

    Bartlomiej Jankowski said: “Any individual on Polish soil, irrespective of nationality, religion or the allegations against him, ought to enjoy the same high degree of protection from infringements of his human rights. We want to ensure that in the future Poland respects international law and its own Constitution, which clearly prohibits the horrendous acts of torture committed against Abu Zubaydah.”

    INTERIGHTS Litigation Director Helen Duffy said: “The treatment of Abu Zubaydah is one of the lowest points of the so-called ‘war on terror’. The case filed today reveals a complex international system of enforced disappearance, secret detention and torture in which Poland played a crucial part. Poland’s international obligations now require an effective investigation and the accountability of those responsible. It remains to be seen whether the cloak of secrecy currently surrounding the investigation will be lifted and the Polish authorities will show their commitment to justice.”

    Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith said: “This action is not about persecuting officials, even if they did commit crimes. Rather, it is about exposing past mistakes so that we can learn from history. Because you cannot learn from the past, and avoid repeating its mistakes, if you do not know what that history was. There can be no excuse for keeping torture and rendition a secret.”

    For more information please contact Sarah Harrington at INTERIGHTS sharrington@interights.org +44 (0)20 7843 0472, or Emma Draper at Reprieve’s Press Office, emma.draper@reprieve.org.uk +44(0)20 7427 1099.

    NOTES FOR EDITORS:

    Background on Abu Zubaydah

    Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, more commonly known as Abu Zubaydah, is a stateless Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia. He was held in secret detention by the CIA of the United States of America from the time of his abduction from a home in Faisalbad, Pakistan on 28 March 2002 until approximately 6 September 2006, when it was announced that he was transferred to the custody of the U.S. Department of Defence (“DOD”) at Guantanamo Bay. He remains in indefinite detention in DOD custody at Guantanamo Bay, however he has never been charged of any crime, neither in proceedings before a military commission nor in a civilian court.

    Abu Zubaydah was the first detainee captured after 11 September 2001 who was believed to be a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda. He was also the first person to be subjected to the new regime of abusive interrogation designed and implemented by the CIA. According to former CIA Director George Tenet, once Abu Zubaydah was in custody, the CIA “got into holding and interrogating high-value detainees . . . in a serious way.”

    Throughout the period of Abu Zubaydah’s secret detention, interrogation and torture by the CIA he was falsely alleged to be a member of al Qaeda and a close associate and senior lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. He was also falsely alleged to have had a role in various al Qaeda terrorist acts – including the attacks on 11 September 2001. After more than six years of incommunicado detention, Zubaydah obtained access to U.S. lawyers, who challenged his detention in U.S. courts and forced the U.S. Department of Justice to withdraw all such allegations. The United States no longer alleges Abu Zubaydah was ever a member of al Qaeda or that he supported al Qaeda’s radical ideology. The United States no longer alleges that Abu Zubaydah was an associate of Osama bin Laden or that he was his senior lieutenant. The United States no longer alleges that Zubaydah had any role in any terrorist attack planned or perpetrated by al Qaeda, including the attacks of 11 September 2001.

    Abu Zubaydah was the first so-called “high value detainee” to be captured, detained and interrogated by the CIA. For the purpose of his interrogation, the CIA devised a set of “enhanced interrogation techniques” intended to create a state of learned helplessness through the application of severe physical and psychological stress. He is one of three detainees subjected to the waterboard, and U.S. government documents show that he was waterboarded at least 83 times in one month.

    Background on INTERIGHTS and Reprieve

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