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Court says Poland violated human rights in CIA case

WARSAW — Europe’s top human rights court ruled Thursday that Poland violated the rights of two terror suspects by allowing the CIA to secretly imprison them on Polish soil from 2002-2003 and facilitating the conditions under which they were subjected to torture.

The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights marked the first time any court has passed judgment on the so-called ‘‘renditions program’’ that President George W. Bush launched after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Even though the rendition program has been abolished, lawyers for the suspects think the United States and other governments operate in too much secrecy, using national security as a pretext for surveillance and other practices which violate individual liberties.


‘‘Governments still engage in abusive practices and try to hide the facts,’’ said Amrit Singh, a lawyer at the Open Society Justice Initiative who represented Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri before the European court. ‘‘The broad message from today’s ruling is to end the impunity of national governments.’’

The court, based in Strasbourg, France, said Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to stop the ‘‘torture and inhuman or degrading treatment’’ of Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, who were transported to Poland in 2002.

It ordered Poland to pay $175,000 to Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect, and $135,000 to Nashiri, a Saudi national accused of orchestrating a 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors.

Both suspects are now imprisoned at Guantanamo.

Leszek Miller, Polish prime minister at the time, slammed the court’s decision as ‘‘unjust and immoral’’ and said it would be absurd for Poland to pay a fine to ‘‘murderers.’’

‘‘It’s unjust because it is based on rumors, speculation, and slander. Material that Polish authorities sent to the court was rejected and not considered by the court,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s immoral because the tribunal put the rights of murderers above the rights of victims.’’