'Bright Light,' CIA's secret prison in Romania, has been located: AP


An exterior view of the Office of the National Register for Secret State Information, or ORNISS.



A secret CIA prison, code-named "Bright Light," has been located inside a government building in Bucharest, Romania, the Associated Press reported.

The prison is inside of the National Registry for Classified Information (ORNISS) headquarters, an investigation by AP and ARD Panorama, a German public television, revealed.

"Former intelligence officials both described the location of the prison, and identified pictures of the building," the AP article reported. 

The existence of a CIA prison in Romania has been reported frequently, but this is the first time that an actual location has been revealed. 

Romanian authorities have denied the existence of such a facility, but human rights investigators and journalists have previously used flight records to tie Romania to the CIA's secret prison program. 

In November, during an interview with ARD, senior ORNISS official Adrian Camarasan said the basement is one of the most secure rooms in all of Romania. But he said Americans never ran a prison there.

"No, no. Impossible, impossible," Camarasan said. 

The list of prisoners held in the facility is extensive. Among those detained are Mohammad and Walid bin Attash, who were implicated in the bombing of the USS Cole; Ramzi Binalshibh, Abdu Faraj and Abu Faraj al-Libi, who provided information that later helped the CIA identify Osama bin Laden's courier; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the architect behind 9/11. Some were ultimately transferred to Guantanamo Bay, after being held legally in Kabul, AP reported. Others were sent back to their native countries. 

According to the AP, "Bright Light" opened for business after the CIA closed down a black site in Poland, said former US officials.

The AP article also explained that shuttling detainees into the facility without being seen was relatively easy. 

After flying into Bucharest, the detainees were brought to the site in vans. CIA operatives then drove down a side road and entered the compound through a rear gate that led to the actual prison.

The detainees could then be unloaded and whisked into the ground floor of the prison and into the basement.

The basement consisted of six prefabricated cells, each with a clock and arrow pointing to Mecca, the officials said. The cells were on springs, keeping them slightly off balance and causing disorientation among some detainees. 

The site was closed in the first half of 2006, before CIA director Porter Gross left his job.

According to the BBC, President Obama ordered the closure of "any" such secret prisons in 2010, avoiding an admission about how many, if any, currently exist and how many there were in the past.