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Polish official sues Marty over CIA prisons

Marty named and shamed around 20 countries in his secret CIA prisons report Keystone

A former senior Polish intelligence official is suing a Swiss investigator over a report accusing him of direct knowledge of secret CIA operations in Poland.

This content was published on September 26, 2007 - 09:46

Marek Siwiec, who is now vice-president of the European Parliament, has filed a libel suit against Swiss senator Dick Marty in the district court of Poznan, Siwiec's office said.

Marty identified Siwiec as one of several local officials privy to the United States secret detention programme in Europe after the 2001 attacks.

The former Swiss prosecutor had conducted an 18-month inquiry on behalf of the Council of Europe into allegations that the US intelligence interrogated key terror suspects at secret prisons in Poland and Romania.

Citing unidentified CIA sources and other contacts, Marty accused four high-ranking Poles and five Romanians - including former presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski and Ion Iliescu - as being politically accountable for the clandestine jails, where he said prisoners were shackled and handcuffed, kept naked and in isolation.

However, Siwiec said he knew nothing about any possible secret deal between the US and Poland. He said that Marty's report was based on false information and that it violated his personal rights.

Marty was not immediately available to comment.

The lawsuit follows requests by Siwiec and former Romanian Defence Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu in July to have their names removed from the report.

Wrongdoing?

Both Poland and Romania have vehemently dismissed allegations they housed secret prisons, and most of the other EU countries mentioned in Marty's reports have denied any wrongdoing.

The European Parliament is due to debate the issue on Wednesday. EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini is expected to inform parliamentarians of letters sent to Poland and Romania asking the two countries to respond to the accusations.

Marty's report said earlier this year that "high value detainees" such as self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and suspected senior al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah were held in Poland - in breach of European human rights standards.

It said lesser detainees, who were still of "remarkable importance", were taken to Romania.

Marty also stated that 20 mostly European countries colluded in a global "spider's web" of secret CIA jails and flight transfers of terrorist suspects stretching from Asia to Guantanamo Bay.

Switzerland reportedly knew of the secret prisons. A Swiss newspaper revealed that in 2005 the country's intelligence services intercepted a fax from Egypt claiming that the US was operating a secret prison in Romania.

Earlier this year the Swiss government authorised plans to launch criminal proceedings over a suspected CIA flight that took a Muslim preacher kidnapped in Italy across Swiss airspace.

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In brief

Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, was appointed by the Council of Europe in November 2005 to investigate claims that the CIA had set up secret prisons in eastern Europe.

In his initial report published in June 2006 he concluded that 14 European countries had colluded with the US in a "spider's web" of human rights abuses.

Marty, who is chairman of the council's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, said other countries, including Switzerland, had been involved actively or passively in the detention or transfer of unknown persons.

President Bush acknowledged the existence of a secret detention programme in September, but did not say where the prisons were located.

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Implicated countries

The European countries implicated in Marty's preliminary report for colluding with the CIA extraordinary renditions programme, allowing undeclared flights or failing to investigate kidnappings of their citizens or residents: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

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