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US denies Poland request for assistance in secret CIA prison investigation

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights [advocacy website] announced Tuesday that the US government has refused to provide legal cooperation to Polish prosecutors investigating whether Saudi terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [NYT profile, JURIST news archive] was tortured in a secret CIA prison [JURIST news archive] in Poland. According to the letter sent by Polish prosecutors to the Helsinki Foundation, the US government denied the March 2009 request [AFP report] on the basis of a bilateral agreement on the protection of state interests [AP report]. Polish prosecutors granted al-Nashiri victim status [JURIST report] in October, recognizing validity of his claims that he was mistreated by interrogators. Al-Nashiri remains a detainee at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], despite an announcement last month by the Obama administration that charges against him are not pending [JURIST report] or being considered. The Pentagon formally dropped charges [JURIST report] against al-Nashiri in February 2009, effectively ending his prosecution under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF].

Polish prosecutors opened an investigation into the alleged mistreatment of al-Nashiri in September in response to the request [JURIST reports] filed by human rights group Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) [advocacy website] and al-Nashiri's lawyers. OSJI stated that the filing represents the first attempt by an extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] victim to pursue a legal remedy within the Polish court system. The commencement of the investigation came one week after former Polish prime minister Leszek Miller denied any knowledge [JURIST report] of a secret CIA prison in Poland and indicated that he would not discuss allegations of torture until the Polish government's investigation is complete. Earlier this month, lawyers for Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah asked Polish prosecutors [JURIST report] to investigate claims that Zubaydah was abused in the secret CIA prison, hoping Zubaydah's investigation would be done in conjunction with al-Nashiri's investigation. Allegations against Poland were first raised in a June 2007 report [text; JURIST report] to the Council of Europe [official website] by Swiss Senator Dick Marty. The report concluded that numerous European governments had cooperated with the CIA secret prison program. In February 2007, the European Parliament condemned more than a dozen European states [JURIST report] for their roles in the program. Several nations have been accused of obstructing European probes into the secret prison allegations, including Poland [JURIST report], which allegedly housed the largest CIA detention facility in Europe [JURIST report].

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