The CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005 to interrogate detainees in its war on terror, European investigator Dick Marty said in a report released today.
The report, citing unnamed CIA sources, said top terror suspects Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were secretly held and interrogated in Poland, and that the “highest state authorities” in countries involved knew of the alleged detention centers.
Sheikh Mohammed is the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. Abu Zubaydah is a suspected senior al-Qaida operative.
Marty also accused Germany and Italy of obstructing his probe into the alleged secret detentions by the CIA.
The report said collaboration by U.S. allies was critical to the secret detention program, which took place in the framework of NATO`s security policy.
“The secret detention facilities in Europe were run directly and exclusively by the CIA,” said the report. “While it is likely that very few people in the countries concerned, including in the governments themselves, knew of the existence of the centres, we have sufficient grounds to declare that the highest state authorities were aware of the CIA`s illegal activities on their territories.”
Poland and Romania hosted the prisons under a special post-Sept. 11 CIA program to “kill, capture and detain” so-called high value terrorist suspects, wrote Marty, a Swiss senator investigating the alleged role of Council of Europe states in the CIA program.
Evidence of secret flights — at least 10 flights to Poland between 2002 and 2005 — show the pivotal role played by Poland and Romania as drop-off points, the report says.
“There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania,” the report said.
Jerzy Szmajdzinski, who served as Poland`s defense minister from 2001-2005, sarcastically brushed aside the accusations.
“Of course, I organized everything and gave them a red-carpet welcome,” said Szmajdzinski. He declined further comment, saying: “I don`t deal with political fiction.”
Romanian Senator Norica Nicolai, who headed an investigation for parliament into the allegations, rejected Marty`s findings as “totally unfounded.”
In Germany, government spokesman Thomas Steg strongly rejected the accusation that it hindered the probe.
“The government knows of media reports about apparent prisoner transports and secret prisons, but the government itself has no information on such transports and facilities,” Steg said. “To date, Mr. Marty has in his other reports also failed to provide any evidence that was is alleged is actually true.”
Steg said the government would examine the new report.
Marty did not name sources from his information, but said that the report was based on discussions with people “who had worked or still worked for the relevant authorities, in particular intelligence agencies.”
“We have never based our conclusions on single statements and we have only used information that is confirmed by other, totally independent sources,” the report said, adding that where possible information was “cross-checked” in the European countries in question, in the United States or through documents or data.
“Clearly, our individual sources were only willing to talk to us on the condition of absolute anonymity,” the report said.
Last year, Marty accused 14 European nations — spanning a swath from Dublin to Berlin to Bucharest — of colluding with U.S. intelligence in a web of rights abuses to help the CIA spirit terror suspects to illegal detention facilities.
Marty said evidence suggested that CIA-linked planes carrying terror suspects had landed at airports in Timisoara, Romania, and Szymany, Poland, and likely dropped off detainees there.
His second report confirms Szymany as a drop-off point in Poland, where at least 10 flights — six coming from Kabul, Afghanistan — landing there.
The report lists eight of the CIA flights, with one each originating in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates and Rabat, Morocco, and says it can be “demonstrated” that the majority of them were “deliberately disguised.”