Poland prosecutors grant terror suspect victim status
Poland prosecutors grant terror suspect victim status
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[JURIST] Polish prosecutors investigating the secret CIA prison [JURIST news archive] in Poland on Wednesday gave Saudi terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [NYT profile, JURIST news archive] victim status, recognizing the validity of his claims that he was mistreated by interrogators. According to ex-CIA officials, al-Nashiri, accused of bombing the USS Cole [JURIST news archive], was tortured by the agency at the secret prison in Poland. Elevating al-Nashiri to victim status will grant the detainee more rights and allow his lawyers to participate in the proceedings. Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] Jameel Jaffer called for the US to hold top officials accountable for torture [press release], saying:

Holding torturers accountable is essential to restoring American credibility at home and abroad – the U.S. can no longer remain silent as, one by one, other nations begin to reckon with their own agents’ complicity in the torture program through prosecutions and judicial inquiries.

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].

Last month, Polish prosecutors opened an investigation into the alleged mistreatment of al-Nashiri 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. Allegations against Poland came 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 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].