Polish prosecutors to drop charges in CIA jail inquiry-report

WARSAW Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:52am EST

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish prosecutors have decided to drop charges against the country's former intelligence chief made during an investigation into allegations the CIA was allowed to run a secret prison in Poland for al Qaeda suspects, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

The daily Gazeta Wyborcza first reported early last year Zbigniew Siemiatkowski faced charges of exceeding his authority at the height of the U.S.-led "war on terror".

Government and legal officials have declined to comment on whether Siemiatkowski has ever been questioned or charged. But several sources close to the investigation contacted by Reuters last year confirmed prosecutors had drawn up charges against him.

On Tuesday, the same newspaper cited an unnamed source saying Siemiatkowski would soon be cleared. "The decision to drop the charges against Siemiatkowski has been taken by Krakow-based prosecutors," it said.

Gazeta Wyborcza is one of Poland's most respected newspapers and has a track record of getting access to information about the investigation into the alleged CIA jail in Poland.

Despite reports by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe stating Poland hosted a CIA detention centre, Polish officials have repeatedly denied there was ever any such base on their soil.

The government called for an investigation into allegations the country was involved in a CIA operation a decade ago to transport suspected al Qaeda members to foreign facilities where they could be interrogated without the safeguards set out under U.S. law.

The justice ministry has confirmed an investigation was underway but prosecutors have also regularly declined to comment on the reports they were looking into Siemiatkowski's role.

Again on Tuesday, Piotr Kosmaty, spokesman for the Appellate Prosecutor's office in Poland's southern city of Krakow, told Reuters he could not go into details.

Lawyers for two men who say they were held illegally in a secret CIA jail on Polish territory told Reuters last month investigations into the "black sites" were being stalled because a trial would embarrass the Polish state.

Reuters last year sent Siemiatkowski written questions about whether he knew about or was involved in a CIA jail in Poland, but he did not reply.

Under Poland's justice system, charges are first presented to a suspect by prosecutors. That does not necessarily mean the prosecutor will progress to the next step, which is to bring the charges to court.

(Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Additional reporting by Wojciech Zurawski in Krakow, Poland; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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