2011-09-02 Polish CIA prison: US and Poland had been trying to "put story to rest" #wlfind [Update 2]

A new Wikileaks release 05WARSAW4030 finally proves that the United States and Poland colluded in their efforts to silence questions about a CIA prison in Masovia.

This is what the cable says:

"[FM] Meller's staff expects that the renditions and "CIA prisons" issue will continue to dog the Polish government, despite our and the Poles' best efforts to put this story to rest. In response to sustained media pressure, PM Marcinkiewicz announced December 10 that his government will order an internal probe "to close the issue." Meller anticipates being asked about renditions by the Polish press while in Washington, and the MFA has asked that we remain in close contact to coordinate our public stance."

In another cable 05WARSAW4037 from the same year, the issue is brought up again:

"[Polish government official Schnepf] noted the GOP's need to find tangible benefit from the mission to gain public support for a continued Polish presence in Iraq. Schnepf also suggested that media reports about alleged CIA prisons in Poland might further undercut this public support."

In hindsight, the assessment that this issue will continue to dog the Polish government was certainly right. Earlier this year, a complaint against Poland was filed with the European Court of Human Rights, amongst others for a failure to investigate the CIA prison. A criminal case which was launched in Poland in 2008 is still ongoing.

The wording of the cable strongly suggest that the US and Poland were trying to influence the press coverage on the matter. How this was to be carried out is not detailed. In fact, very few cables on the topic exist, compared to, for instance, a similar case in Lithuania.

When looking at this text, two events come to mind that would fit the bill. A few months ago, a Warsaw investigator was removed from the case, after it became known that he was planning to file charges, amongst others for crimes against humanity. A part of his case files were subsequently obtained and covered by Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, which triggered a criminal investigation that involved interrogations of journalists.

For our previous coverage please see this page.


A few hours after this story appeared, it was summarized by Polish Press Agency PAP, and then published by various news outlets. It has now led to independent reports in the two leading publications of the country, one in conservative newspaper Rzeczpospolita, the other in left of center Gazeta Wyborcza. The latter appears as featured article on the internet edition of the paper. Moreover, it has been covered, in English, by thenews.pl.


In the meantime, also Polish public broadcaster TVP and legal publication Gazeta Prawna covered the story.

On Monday, Council of Europe human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg called on Poland, Lithuania and Romania to investigate their role in secret detention and torture. This story appeared on PAP and AP and - finally, after months of deafening silence - made it into the major international news outlets such as for instance Forbes and CNN.

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