WARSAW — A former Polish president who was in office during the time the CIA is suspected of running a secret prison in his country says he has no knowledge of the facility or of harsh interrogation techniques allegedly used against terror suspects there.
Aleksander Kwasniewski’s comments followed a an Associated Press report that a suspect in the USS Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was subjected to harsh treatment in a secret prison in Poland in late 2002 and early 2003.
The AP learned from several former intelligence officials and a review by the CIA’s inspector general that a CIA officer revved a power drill near Nashiri’s head and threatened him with an unloaded handgun.
Kwasniewski, Poland’s president from 1995 to 2005, denied knowledge of such a “black site,’’ but also said he does not know the full extent of CIA operations on Polish soil.
“I am not able to say whether such things took place or could have taken place,’’ he said. “It all still needs to be checked.’’
“I can repeat that there has been intelligence cooperation between Poland and the US,’’ Kwasniewski said on the sidelines of an economic forum in the southern Polish mountain resort of Krynica Gorska. “There were no prisons.’’
He strongly defended Poland’s support of the US fight against terrorism and reiterated that the CIA used Poland as a base where flights would take off and land after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“US planes landed in Poland, and many activities took place in connection to that, but it was fully under US responsibility,’’ he said.
“Our support for the intelligence activity stemmed from the conviction that it serves the security of the US, of Poland, and of the world.’’
Polish prosecutors are investigating the extent of Poland’s involvement in the US system of secret prisons around the world where detainees were questioned and subjected to harsh methods, including the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding.
The newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported last month that prosecutors are considering war crimes charges against Kwasniewski and two other officials for allegedly allowing harsh methods to be used in Poland.