Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah (WikiCommons)

Lawyers for two Guantanamo detainees have told the European court of human rights (ECHR) that Poland should be held responsible for extraordinary rendition, secret detention and torture.

The accusations of human rights abuses were brought against Poland by stateless Palestinian Abu Zubaydah and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri - both detainees at the US military prison in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay.

In a rare public hearing by the Strasbourg court, lawyers stated that Abu Zubaydah and Nashiri were waterboarded during interrogation in Poland with the knowledge of the Polish government. The two also accuse Poland of other ill treatment and incommunicado detention in the country, while in US custody.

Abu Zubaydah, who is accused of making travel arrangements for jihadis loyal to Osama bin Laden, was flown from a CIA prison site in Thailand to a "black site" in Poland in December 2002, according to declassified US government documents.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty named the Polish detention centre as Stare Kiejkuty, an intelligence training base near Szczytno in northern Poland

There, the terror suspect was moved to what has been described as the "most important" secret prison in the war on terror and subject to torture - such as waterboarding and extreme noise-exposure - and ill-treatment, according to his lawyers. The suspect is still in Guantanamo Bay despite having not been charged.

Nashiri is the primary suspect in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen, in which 17 sailors died. He claims that he was abducted in Dubai and moved around CIA facilities in Afghanistan and Thailand. He ended up in the same secret Polish facility as Abu Zubaydah, and there subject to the same waterboarding technique.

He says he was also forced into prolonged stress positions such as kneeling on the floor and leaning back.

Pádraig Hughes, a lawyer with Interights who presented the cases, said before the hearing: "Despite the best efforts of Poland to hide its involvement in the US led extraordinary rendition programme, there is clear evidence of its complicity.

"The ECHR now has an opportunity to examine that evidence properly and to ensure that Poland is held accountable for its involvement in Abu Zubaydah's torture and ill treatment. We hope that the court's ruling will make it clear that the actions by the Polish authorities were a clear violation of human rights and should never be repeated by any country that properly respects human rights and the rule of law."