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Romania/USA: CIA secret prison discovered in Bucharest

last updated Dec 12, 2011

A joint investigation by the German television channel ARD and the Associated Press (AP) has identified a government building in the Romanian capital Bucharest as a former CIA secret prison for the interrogation of terrorism suspects. The building belongs to the National Registry Office for Classified Information (ORNISS) where it stores classified information from NATO and the European Union.

Former CIA agents confirmed the findings and said that terrorism suspects were also subjected to torture during interrogations. They also told the ARD and AP that during the first months of detention, detainees endured sleep deprivation and were slapped and forced to stand in painful positions. Waterboarding was not used, according to former officials.

A spokesman of ORNISS has denied all allegations that the CIA ran a prison in the basement of the building but has confirmed that it is one of the most secure rooms in Romania. The CIA has declined to comment on the prison. Bucharest was already mentioned as a CIA location in the United Nations Study on Secret Places of Detention.

The secret prison was opened in autumn 2003 after the CIA decided to close the Polish “black site”. Until its closure in 2006, the building in Bucharest was used for al-Qaida suspects such as Khalid Sheik Mohammad. The CIA’s interrogation and detention programme ended in 2009.

Dick Marty, who led an investigation into the matter for the Council of Europe, sees the new information as a confirmation of the CIA’s regular practices. During the investigation, Romania’s foreign affairs minister assured that “no public official or other person acting in an official capacity has been involved in the unacknowledged deprivation of any individual, or transport of any individual while so deprived of their liberty”. Thomas Hammarberg, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe (CoE) has recently called for further investigations into secret prisons in Eastern Europe run by the CIA.

AP Exclusive: Inside Romania's secret CIA prison

BBC News: CIA 'secret prison' found in Romania - media reports

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