MPs confirm CIA secret torture prison in Lithuania


This video is called Baltic Gitmo: CIA ‘black site’ to land Lithuania in court.

Here is a CIA secret prison in Lithuania video.

From British daily The Morning Star:

US had secret detention camp in Lithuania

Tuesday 22 December 2009

by Tom Mellen

A commission of Lithuanian MPs have confirmed that its spooks had let the US set up a secret detention camp in Lithuania over the heads of top politicians.

The head of parliament’s national security and defence committee revealed that the domestic intelligence service had opened two detention centres in co-operation with the CIA.

Arvydas Anusauskas said that top officials had not been informed about the jails, and that they had not been appproved by politicians.

The investigation found that five planes related to the CIA landed in Lithuania in 2003-2006 and that domestic intelligence officials stopped customs and border guards from inspecting them.

“Regarding the ‘cargo,’ I can’t confirm anything, because Lithuanian authorities could not carry out the usual checks, so what was being transported was unknown,” Mr Anusauskas explained.

The panel of MPs kicked off its investigation into the CIA prisons in November after the US channel ABC alleged that the ex-Soviet republic had hosted a so-called CIA “black site,” or secret interrogation facility, up to 2005.

ABC cited unnamed former intelligence officials and records of flights between Afghanistan and Lithuania.

It alleged that Lithuanian officials had agreed to host the prisons in return for Washington’s support for Lithuania’s 2004 admission into NATO.

Mr Anusauskas said: “We have identified the sites. The first project was developed from 2002.

“In response to the wishes of our partners and the conditions that were imposed, the site was meant to host one person. The second site was created in 2004.”

He said that the parliamentary probe had concluded that Lithuania’s two presidents over the period were “not informed, or only informed superficially” about the sites.

The parliamentary commission asked prosecutors to investigate three of the country’s former state security officials over possible abuses of power.

Responding to the commission’s findings, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said: “It is deeply worrying that a small group of state security department officials could make a decision to establish a detention centre without informing the society and state officials.”

Mr Kubilas declared that the officers had violated Lithuanian law and ignored the negative consequences to Lithuania’s international reputation.

“Lithuania is a strategic US ally, and co-operation in many fields, including secret operations and counter-terrorism, is very important,” he said, adding: “However, the strategic partnership with the US cannot be an excuse to essentially operate under Soviet methods, to ignore the civil control of special services and to violate existing laws.”

See also here. And here. And here. And here.

Lithuanian foreign minister quits in CIA prison row: here.

Kew Gardens discovers new plant species in own glasshouse


Isoglossa variegata was discovered in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Photograph: RBG Kew

From British daily The Guardian:

Kew discovers new plant species in one of its own glasshouses

Botanists at Kew unveil a bumper crop of new plant species for 2009 including one that had been growing under their noses for 50 years

* Ian Sample, science correspondent
* Tuesday 22 December 2009 00.00 GMT

The quest to catalogue Earth’s rich flora has taken botanists to the farthest flung and most treacherous corners of the world, from the humid rainforests of the Amazon to the highest peaks of Borneo.

Which made it all the more surprising when Iain Darbyshire stumbled upon a species of plant unknown to science while taking a lunchtime stroll around the Royal Botanic Gardens in west London.

Darbyshire, an expert in African botany at Kew, happened upon the foot-tall plant in full bloom, its striking green and grey heart-shaped leaves set off by tiny white and pink flowers.

“I just happened to take a different route through the glasshouse that lunchtime and stumbled across it,” Darbyshire told the Guardian. “I knew instantly that it was a new species. It was just sat there waiting for someone to study it.”

Record books revealed the plants had been donated by Swedish botanists in the 1990s after an expedition to the Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania. Unsuspecting gardeners had tended them for more than a decade, using them as tropical bedding in Kew’s Princess of Wales Conservatory.

The plant was officially named Isoglossa variegata last month and is among more than 250 new plant and fungus species discovered and described by the gardens’ botanists in the past year.

Giant rainforest trees, tiny fungi and wild coffee plants are among almost 300 species that have been described by UK botanists for the first time in 2009: here. And here.

Kew Gardens, London, recently invited New Scientist to take a look at its internationally renowned conservation, classification and research work: here.