Guantanamo Detainee Alleges Polish Complicity in Torture and CIA Extraordinary Rendition 03 Dec 2013

Strasbourg: 3rd December, 2013: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will hold a hearing today to examine Poland’s role in the extraordinary rendition, secret detention and torture of Abu Zubaydah, a stateless Palestinian currently held in a US military prison in Guantanamo Bay. This historic court hearing will be the first time a European country has been taken to court for allowing the CIA to run a torture site on its territory and comes after years of silence from the Polish government about the CIA’s prison there.

Declassified US government documents show that Abu Zubaydah was flown from a CIA prison site in Thailand to another site in Poland, in December 2002. It is alleged Poland played a central role in the CIA programme of incommunicado detention and torture, developed following the 9/11 attack on the US, and hosted what has been described as the ‘most important’ secret prison in the ‘war on terror.’ It also facilitated the transfer of detainees from Poland to other locations where their secret detention and torture continued. Interights is representing Abu Zubaydah along with his American and Polish lawyers.

Poland stands accused of facilitating Abu Zubaydah’s extraordinary rendition onto its territory, being complicit in his incommunicado detention, and subjecting him to torture and ill-treatment. Poland is also accused of complicity in his transfer to another state despite being aware Abu Zubaydah was at substantial risk of further torture and ill treatment.  A pre-trial criminal investigation initiated by Polish prosecutors in 2008 purporting to examine these events has proven to be ineffective and as a consequence Poland is accused of breaching its legal obligation to properly and promptly investigate the claims made against it.

Pádraig Hughes, a lawyer with Interights who will be arguing the cases, said:

“Despite the best efforts of Poland to hide its involvement in the U.S. led extraordinary rendition programme, there is clear evidence of its complicity. The European Court of Human Rights now has an opportunity to examine that evidence properly and to ensure that Poland is held accountable for its involvement in Abu Zubaydah’s torture and ill treatment.  We hope that the Court’s ruling will make it clear that the actions by the Polish authorities were a clear violation of human rights and should never be repeated by any country that properly respects human rights and the rule of law.”

Abu Zubaydah’s case will be heard along with the case of Al Nashiri v. Poland. Al Nashiri is also detained at Guantanamo Bay where he is at risk of the death penalty. He is represented by the Open Society Justice Initiative (<

Interights has filed a separate complaint on behalf of Abu Zubaydah before the European Court of Human Rights against Lithuania, where he was also secretly detained and abused at a CIA “black site.” (< To date European states alleged to have been involved in the extraordinary rendition programme have failed to properly address allegations relating to their involvement. This case presents the Court with an opportunity to ensure States understand their obligations to the public and to victims in such cases.

The Polish government unsuccessfully asked the court to hear the case in secret, but it will proceed in public today, on 3rd December 2013.




INTERIGHTS provides leadership and support in the legal protection of human rights. We work to ensure that human rights standards are protected and promoted effectively in domestic court and before regional and international bodies.


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