The Polish prime minister has ordered an investigation into allegations that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operated secret prisons for terrorist suspects in Poland. The announcement comes after human rights investigators named Poland as among likely countries in Eastern Europe to host such detention facilities.
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has ordered an official inquiry into claims that Poland hosted CIA-led secret prisons and interrogation centers.
Polish local media have quoted the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch group as saying that Poland was until recently the main location for CIA interrogations of terror suspects in Europe. Human rights investigators allege these facilities may have engaged in torture to obtain information.
CIA planes allegedly made at least five landings at a Polish airport in 2002 and 2003, although it is uclear whether any prisoners were on board.
Polish officials, including the president, deny the allegations, but Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz says an investigation is necessary as the reports could in his words threaten the country's security.
Janusz Danecki a Middle East professor at Warsaw University, says news of possible secret CIA prisons in Poland comes at a time when the country is already a potential target for terror attacks because of its cooperation with the United States in Iraq.
"I would not exclude in the nearest future attempts to attack us, to attack Warsaw or any other town or objects in Poland," he said.
Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz has pledged to carry out "a detailed check in all places possible" as part of his attempts to "finally close the issue" of CIA prisons in Poland.
But speaking through an interpreter on the English language service of Polish radio, Poland's Special Services Coordinator Zbigniew Wasserman admitted that investigating CIA operations will be difficult.
"I have put questions to the heads of the respective intelligence services and special forces units, but we must remember that these matters cannot be discussed in public, because of their very naturem" he said. "However, so far, nothing has been confirmed from the allegations made by the media."
Besides Poland, Romania is also mentioned by Human Rights Watch as among likely countries in former Communist Eastern Europe to host secret CIA prisons.
Romanian President Traian Basescu has denied the accusations and wants to submit his country to international inspection to clear up the matter.
Hungary has admitted however that at least two CIA planes landed in Budapest in the last two years, most recently in October. But Hungarian officials claim these planes did not carry any prisoners.