|Inside Romania's secret CIA prison
From Associated Press
December 08, 2011 3:31 AM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) In northern Bucharest, in a busy residential neighborhood
minutes from the center of Romania's capital city, is a secret that the Romanian
government has tried for years to protect.
For years, the CIA used a government building codenamed Bright Light
as a makeshift prison for its most valuable detainees. There, it held
al-Qaida operatives Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, and others
in a basement prison before they were ultimately transferred to Guantanamo
Bay in 2006, according to former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with
the location and inner workings of the prison.
The existence of a CIA prison in Romania has been widely reported but its
location has never been made public until a joint investigation by The Associated
Press and German public television, ARD Panorama. The news organizations
located the former prison and learned details of the facility where harsh
interrogation tactics were used. ARD's program on the CIA prison will air
The Romanian prison was part of a network of so-called black sites that the
CIA operated and controlled overseas in Thailand, Lithuania and Poland. All
the prisons were closed by May 2006, and the CIA's detention and interrogation
program ended in 2009.
Unlike the CIA's facility in Lithuania's countryside or the one hidden in
a Polish military installation, the CIA's prison in Romania was not in a
remote location. It was hidden in plain sight, a couple blocks off a major
boulevard on a street lined with trees and homes, along busy train tracks.
The building is used as the National Registry Office for Classified Information,
which is also known as ORNISS. Classified information from NATO and the European
Union is stored there. Former intelligence officials both described the location
of the prison and identified pictures of the building.