Poland acknowledged Wednesday, after years of denials, that a secret CIA prison where terror suspects were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques operated inside the country, the Associated Press reported. But the country’s former president said he never signed off on the torture inflicted on the suspects. The comments from former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski came a day after the controversial CIA torture report was released.
The CIA "black site" was first reported to be in Poland, a strong U.S. ally, around June 2007. A report from the Council of Europe said “high-value detainees” were held in CIA custody near Szymany, Poland, in the northern part of the country from 2002 to 2005, according to PBS. Sources that spoke to the AP said the secret CIA prison was run from December 2002 to the fall of 2003. Among the suspects believed to have been held at the black site were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Kwasniewski, Poland’s president at the time the black site was operational, routinely denied the existence of the secret CIA prison until Wednesday, when he acknowledged its existence. While the CIA torture report didn't specifically name Poland -- the names of countries with black sites were redacted in the report -- information from previous news accounts made it obvious when Poland was mentioned.
The black site was shut down at the insistence of the Polish government, Kwasniewski told Polish radio, according to the AP. "Poland took steps to end the activity at this site and the activity was stopped at some point,” he said.
The CIA secret prison is also a big issue in Poland. The country has its own investigation into the black site, which began in 2008.
The Senate Intelligence Committee in the U.S. began investigating enhanced interrogation techniques in 2009. The report found the CIA engaged in unnecessary and brutal interrogation methods, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, rectal feeding and rectal rehydration.