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HFHR’s amicus curiae opinion in case Abu Zubaydah vs. Lithuania

The European Court of Human Rights is investigating the case of a former CIA prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, against Lithuania. It follows from the report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that all enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding had been used to elicit information from Abu Zubaydah in CIA prisons in Europe.

In March 2002, Abu Zubaydah was kidnapped from his home in Faisalabad, Pakistan. His fate was unknown until 2006 when he was transported to Guantanamo prison in Cuba. It is suspected that from 2002 to 2006 he was held in secret CIA detention centres in different countries, including Poland and Lithuania.

In the opinion presented to the Strasbourg Court, the HFHR included the data from the Polish Air Navigation Services and the Polish Border Guard concerning selected flights which may have been associated with CIA’s secret prisons in Poland and in Lithuania.

Moreover, the HFHR has also presented the course of the Polish investigation into the case conducted by the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in Kraków. We have emphasised our concern with yet another extension of the duration of the investigation. Let us remind our readers that the Polish inquiry is the only ongoing investigation on the alleged secret CIA prisons. The investigation in Lithuania has been closed while neither the Romanian prosecutors nor the Romanian authorities have decided to launch any inquiry.

“Abu Zubayadah against Lithuania is yet another case concerning violation of human rights in secret CIA prisons on the territory of European countries”, says Irmina Pacho, HFHR’s lawyer. “Due to the weight of the allegations it is vital that the cases be fully explained at the national level. The ruling by the ECtHR will therefore be very significant”, adds Ms Pacho.

Although Abu Zubaydah has not yet faced any official charges, he is still being detained at Cuba’s Guantanamo prison. A former US special forces agent is said to have described Zubayadah as CIA’s “testing subject” for new interrogation techniques. Currently, the detainee has serious health issues, including partial amnesia. As a result of the tortures, Abu Zubayadah has also lost his left eye.

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