Ex-president Aleksander Kwasniewski admits Poland hosted CIA 'black sites'

WARSAW (AFP) - Poland's former president publicly acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that his country hosted a secret CIA prison where a US Senate report says torture was used against Al-Qaeda suspects.

Aleksander Kwasniewski said that as president he put pressure on the United States to end brutal CIA interrogation at the secret prison on Polish soil in 2003.

"I told (then US president George W) Bush that this cooperation must end and it did end," Kwasniewski told local media.

He was speaking a day after the scathing Senate report revealed the CIA had used methods amounting to torture to interrogate prisoners after the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Kwasniewski, president between 1995 and 2005, said he raised Polish concerns over CIA activities in Poland face-to-face with Bush at the White House in 2003.

He said Bush insisted that the intelligence agency's methods provided "important benefits in security matters", a claim disputed by the report.

"The Americans conducted their activities in such secrecy, that it raised our concern. Polish authorities acted to end these activities and they were stopped under pressure from Poland."

Kwasniewski said Poland had agreed to "beefed-up intelligence cooperation" with the US within the framework of Nato after the Sept 11 attacks, but insisted he was unaware the CIA practised torture at its secret facilities.

Poland allowed the CIA to hold terror suspects on its soil on the condition they were "treated as prisoners of war", he said, adding that the US never signed the memorandum of understanding that included this stipulation.

Those who broke international laws prohibiting torture must be prosecuted, he added.


The European Court of Human Rights slammed Poland in July for complicity in torture on its territory of a Palestinian and a Saudi, later sent to the notorious US Guantanamo Bay base.

The court concluded Poland had cooperated in the CIA's notorious "rendition" programme.

The CIA disputes the findings of the Senate report, which says 119 detainees were captured and imprisoned in secret CIA "black sites" in countries whose names were redacted.

Previous news reports suggested the sites were located in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Thailand.

Polish prosecutors have been probing allegations of the secret prison since 2008. They said they will ask for access to the damning report, as have their Lithuanian counterparts.

"If the information proves correct, Lithuania will have to take responsibility," President Dalia Grybauskaite said of allegations that it also hosted a secret CIA jail.

But Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania's president at the time, on Wednesday denied any knowledge of such facilities.

"I am still convinced that there had been no jails and no prisoners from there", Adamkus, now 88, told AFP.

Human rights activists said the Senate report confirmed suspicions that Saudi Mustafa al-Hawsawi was imprisoned at a secret CIA jail in Lithuania in 2005-6.

In 2009, a Lithuanian parliamentary enquiry identified two sites that may have been used as CIA black sites.

But it noted that despite records showing CIA aircraft landed in Lithuania, it was not possible to say whether suspects were actually brought in.

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