Rights groups confirm CIA rendition planes landed in Poland
Two human rights groups released documents Feb. 22 confirming that planes associated with the US Central Intelligence Agency's "extraordinary rendition" program landed in Poland on six occasions in 2003. The Open Society Justice Initiative and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights released flight records obtained through a freedom of information act request to the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency. Those records confirm at least six plane landings linked to the CIA at the Szczytno-Szymany airport in northern Poland between February and September 2003. The flights' origins included Afghanistan and Morocco.
In a statement, the Justice Initiative used the report to demand accountability by the US on this issue, saying, "We are finding out the truth in Poland, and it is time for the US to come clean."
Poland has been investigating the CIA's extraordinary rendition program since 2008. Under that program, terrorism suspects were seized and flown to secret locations outside the US for interrogation and imprisonment. Poland is alleged to have housed the largest CIA detention facility in Europe, but has previously denied any connection to the program.
In addition to Poland, Romania and Lithuania are alleged to have housed secret CIA facilities. On his third day in office in 2009, President Barack Obama ordered the closure of all CIA secret prisons. In February 2007, the European Parliament condemned more than a dozen European states for their roles in the program. Then-president George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of the secret facilities in September 2006 but provided no details on their locations or operation. (Jurist, Feb. 22)