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Terrorism Suspect Given 'Victim' Status by Polish Legal Authorities

A terrorism suspect who claims he was detained and tortured at a secret CIA site in Poland has been granted the status of "victim" by the Polish legal authorities.

by Matthew Day in Warsaw

The status gives credence to allegations by Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen suspected by the US of involvement in the bombing of the warship USS Cole in 2000, that he was held at an airfield in Poland and subjected to harsh interrogation tactics, including being threatened with an electric drill, by American intelligence officers in 2002.

Al-Nashiri was the chief al Qaeda operative in the Persian Gulf region and allegedly masterminded the deadly 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. (Photo: GETTY) "Granting 'victim status' means that the prosecutor's office is, to a great extent, convinced of the argumentation that he was rendered and held illegally on the territory of Poland," said Adam Bodnar from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

The legal move, which allows Mr Al-Nashiri 's lawyers to view evidence and appeal against decisions, comes as part of a two-year investigation by Polish prosecutors into whether the CIA operated a clandestine camp in Poland as part of its anti-terrorism operations.

Poland's former leaders have always denied the existence of a so-called black-site.

Aleksander Kwasniewski, Polish president in 2002, said "that there were no prisons" although he conceded that US flights had landed at Szymany Airport, the suspected location of the camp, in north-east Poland.

Despite the denial, there is mounting evidence that the US operated a secret base in Poland from December 2002 to the autumn of 2003, and that detainees were subject to torture.

Last month a declassified report by the Inspector General of the CIA revealed that an agent code-named "Albert" used techniques unauthorised by the US justice department on Mr Al-Nashiri in Poland.

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