The European Court of Human Rights has set a date for a public hearing on whether Poland hosted a secret jail operated by the CIA spy agency on its soil.
The hearing was planned by the court in Strasbourg for December 3 to hear arguments in the cases of two individuals, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who say they were kept in a CIA-operated prison in Poland.
A spokeswoman for the European court said the Polish government has presented a request demanding a private hearing. “This request will be examined by the court shortly,” the spokesperson stated.
Poland’s Foreign Ministry, which supervises relations with the European Court of Human Rights, has refused to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which is based in Warsaw, has denounced Poland’s request for a private hearing, accusing the Polish government of trying to hide its involvement in the “extraordinary rendition” program of the CIA.
“We should have the right to review this case in public,” said Adam Bodnar, vice-president of the Helsinki Foundation, which has discovered evidence of Poland’s cooperation with the CIA. “I do not see a reason for confidentiality of proceedings.”
Zubaydah and Nashiri are currently held in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison. The two were kept by the CIA at an intelligence training facility near the village of Stare Kiejkuty in northeast Poland.
Prosecutors in Poland have launched their own investigation into the allegations of a CIA prison, which is separate from the case being heard in Strasbourg.
Polish officials reject the allegations of hosting any CIA prisons, but they say in 2002 and 2003, aircraft used by the CIA landed at a remote airfield in northern Poland, which is close to the site of the alleged jail.
Human rights campaigners say if authorities in Poland are found to be complicit in the establishment of a secret prison, it would be against the Polish law and in violation of international treaties.