2011-06-20 Three former members of Polish government explain status of CIA prison

In a recent issue of leftist daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, three former members of the government discuss a CIA prison on Polish soil that operated in 2002 and 2003. For obvious reasons, they chose to remain anonymous. This article is also available in English.

The three (often hilarious) interviews mark a new stage in reporting on the case. Rather than asking whether there is any evidence for a CIA prison in Stare Kiejkuty, they focus on the question whether Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the then president, knew about its existence. All three politicians state that he was left in the dark about the matter, and that the CIA rendition program was solely known to the government and the prime minister. When Kwaśniewski understood what was going on following a meeting with G.W. Bush, who apparently assumed he knew about it, he ordered the prison to be closed.

This matter is of vital importance for the legal proceedings on a national level, as according to Ryszard Kalisz, former minister of interior affairs, the creation of an extraterritorial area could only be authorized by the president, who would then ask the Sejm for approval.

The three interviewees present their version of the story. Readers should be cautioned that they would face legal actions if their identity was revealed, as they were complicit in the operation of the prison, and, depending on whether this information is classified, obstruction of justice for not coming forward, or leaking state secrets to a newspaper.

There is no doubt that CIA flights landed in Szymany, a small airport in the middle of nowhere in the idyllic Masuria lake district. The evidence for this are airport logs that appeared on the website of conservative daily Rzeczpospolita. They can easily be read by a lay person. The only Polish text in this document is "brak FPL", which translates to "flight plan missing" and "wszystkie FPL do/z EPWA", "all flight plans to/from Warsaw". "STA/STATE" is used for US military flights requiring special procedures. The ICAO code EPSY stands for Szymany, and OAKB for Kabul.

Szymany is a former military airport; in 2002 and 2003 it was licensed for both civilian and military aircraft. It is situated near a training facility of the Polish Secret Service in Stare Kiejkuty. It was set up by the German Secret Service during Second World War, and then used by Russian forces.