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Jun 8, 2007

A change of pace

Secret Prisons in 2 Countries Held Qaeda Suspects, Report Says

Published: June 8, 2007, NYT

LONDON, June 7 — Investigators have confirmed the existence of clandestine C.I.A. prisons in Romania and Poland housing leading members of Al Qaeda, contends a new report from the Council of Europe, the European human rights monitoring agency.

Dick Marty, the Swiss senator leading the inquiry, said in a recent interview that his conclusions were based on information from intelligence agents on both sides of the Atlantic, including members of the C.I.A. counterterrorism center. The report is to be released on Friday.

The report says the jails operated from 2003 to 2005. “Large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice,” it says.


Prisoners in the secret jails were subjected to sleep deprivation and water-boarding, or simulated drowning, said Mr. Marty, who also said that the two jails had been divided into two categories.

The main C.I.A. jail was centered in a Soviet-era military compound at Stare Kjekuty, in northeastern Poland, where about a dozen high-level terrorism suspects were jailed, the report concludes. Lower-level prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq were held in a military base near the Black Sea in Romania, the report contends.

Jails were staffed entirely by the C.I.A., and local guards secured the perimeters, the report says. “The local authorities were not supposed to be aware of the exact number or the identities of the prisoners who passed through the facilities — this was information that they did not ‘need to know,’ ” the report said.

Mr. Marty said last month in an interview with the Swiss newspaper La Liberté that the report relied on information from disaffected C.I.A. agents and other intelligence officials on the other side of the Atlantic. Many of the agents said they were surprised that the prisons remained a secret for so many years. “They spoke to me because they found what was happening to be disgusting,” he was quoted as saying.

The report includes more specific conclusions than a study issued in June last year that contended that at least 14 European countries had accepted secret transfers of terrorism suspects by the United States. That report listed a web of landing points around the world that it said had been used by American authorities for its air network.

The new report contends that the C.I.A. took extraordinary measures to cover its activities. When C.I.A. jets flew to the Szymany airport in Poland, they used flight plans with “fictitious routes,” it says, giving no indication that the airport was the destination. Polish air traffic controllers — working with military intelligence — completed the cover-up, the report says.

Although the report singled out Poland and Romania, it said that it could not rule out the possibility that other European countries permitted these jails to operate.

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