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Justice Department Refuses Cooperation With Polish Prosecutors Investigating Torture at CIA Black Site

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Polish prosecutors looking into the torture (including waterboarding) of prisoners held at the former CIA black site in northeastern Poland near Szymany air base turned to the U.S. Department of Justice with a request for help in collecting information relevant to the case. Polish Radio reports:

The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a request from prosecutors in Warsaw for assistance in the investigation into the alleged CIA prisons in Poland, where captives claim they were tortured. On 18 March, the Prosecutor’s Office of Appeal in Warsaw filed a motion for legal assistance from the US Department of Justice into the probe. On 7 October, reports the PAP news agency, the US informed prosecutors that the motion had been rejected on the basis of the international Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and that the U.S. authorities consider the matter “to be closed”.

According to the agreement, a country has the right to refuse to provide legal assistance if the execution of the request would encroach on this country’s security or another interest of this country. The revelation that the US will not be cooperating with the investigation into the alleged black site, thought to have been in northern Poland near the Szymany air base, comes after a second man followed al-Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in asking prosecutors in Warsaw to look into his case.

Former Polish president Aleksander Kwa?niewski and former prime minister Leszek Miller have insisted to criminal investigators that they knew nothing about a CIA black site in Poland. However, Polish air traffic control in Warsaw confirmed the regular use of the Szymany air base by two aircraft used in the CIA’s extraordinary renditions program, and prosecutors have apparently collected substantial additional evidence that the CIA used the facilities to house and interrogate prisoners. Public pressure to continue the criminal probe is growing. Polish Radio reports that a new billboard has appeared in Poznan featuring a person hooded and bound to a chair with a tattered American flag in the background. The legend in Polish and English reads “Welcome to Poland – Where they torture people.”

So far, the U.S. Justice Department has failed to comply with its treaty obligations to supply information requested by prosecutors in Spain, Germany, Italy, and Poland who are probing allegations of kidnapping, false arrest, assault, and torture by persons believed to be CIA agents in connection with extraordinary rendition operations. Spanish prosecutors have identified officials of the Justice Department itself as targets of their investigation. WikiLeaks disclosed cables showing that U.S. diplomats made extraordinary efforts to suppress or interfere with these criminal investigations, and that threats were repeatedly leveled at local political leaders in an effort to get them to meddle with criminal justice processes–which by law are insulated from political manipulation.

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