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The Warsaw Voice » Law » December 16, 2009
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Court Dismisses 'Secret Deal' Case
December 16, 2009   
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The Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw has dismissed a complaint from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which demanded to know the names of any secret agreements between Polish and U.S. intelligence services. The foundation made the complaint in response to a decision by the head of the Polish military intelligence service to deny access to such information.

The Provincial Administrative Court upheld the military intelligence service head's decision, ruling that the law on access to public information does not apply to state secrets.

The Helsinki Foundation wanted to know the Polish and English names of any secret cooperation agreements between Polish and U.S. intelligence services, especially the CIA, in connection with a report by Swiss senator Dick Marty for the Council of Europe. The report alleges that the CIA had secret prisons in Poland and that Polish and U.S. agents worked together in the transfer of suspected terrorists. The Polish authorities have consistently denied these allegations and the Council of Europe has not managed to obtain information on the matter. The report refers to the possible existence of secret agreements between Polish and U.S. intelligence services.

"The special nature of intelligence service activity, especially military intelligence, means that such agreements, the very name of which may provide some information, are classified as state secrets," Jacek Derlacki, a lawyer for the military intelligence service chief, told the court.

While refusing access to the information requested by the Helsinki Foundation, the military intelligence service head said any such information was a state secret and could only be disclosed to authorized persons in line with the provisions of the law on the protection of secret information. "The foundation asked for access to the names of secret agreements," said judge Edward Wasilewski. "If they are secret, then access to them is regulated by the law on the protection of secret information rather than the law on access to public information which the foundation cited in its petition."

The judge rejected the foundation's complaint that its constitutional right to information had been violated. "In cases where the protection of state secrets is involved, preference must be given to the state's interests over the individual interest of a claimant," he said.
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