CIA secret prison in Lithuania

From British daily The Morning Star:

MPs demand CIA prison probe

Thursday 22 October 2009

Lithuanian MPs demanded an investigation on Wednesday into allegations that the CIA established a secret detention camp for suspected terrorists in Vilnius.

Parliament’s national security and defence committee said it wanted the full 141-member assembly to approve the probe next week.

The call for an investigation was made a day after President Dalia Grybauskaite revealed she had “indirect suspicions” about a secret CIA prison in Lithuania.

And defence committee chairman Arvydas Anusauskas said that parliament wanted to question “certain persons” about the existence of a possible CIA prison.

ABC News reported last August that the CIA ran a secret prison in Vilnius for 14 months from September 2004 and used it to detain and interrogate people after the terror attacks on September 11 2001.

Former president Valdas Adamkus and ex-PM Algirdas Brazauskas, in office at the time the centre was supposedly built, rejected the report.

But Ms Grybauskaite said the allegations of a CIA prison should be taken seriously. “I have indirect suspicions – and not only me, but the entire international community,” she said.

“If there was such a thing, Lithuania should come clean, take responsibility and promise that it will never happen again.”

She stressed that both Lithuania and the United States “must provide answers to these questions.”

In a 2007 probe conducted on behalf of the Council of Europe, Swiss Senator Dick Marty accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to run detention camps or conduct “rendition” flights through their countries between 2002 and 2005.

USA: The CIA “misled Congress five times since 2001″: here.

10 thoughts on “CIA secret prison in Lithuania

  1. International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics

    Wednesday, 25.11.2009, 22:39

    BC, Vilnius, 23.11.2009.Print version

    Antaviliai: Lithuania’s alleged US ‘war on terror’ jail

    On the edge of a Lithuanian forest, the stone and redwood building blends into the pines, as mysterious as the American agents who allegedly used it to interrogate suspected Al-Qaeda members, reports AFP/LETA.

    Some 20 kilometres from the Baltic state’s capital, Vilnius, a former riding school in the hamlet of Antaviliai purportedly hosted a secret CIA facility in 2004 and 2005.

    Locals are far from surprised by allegations about the site’s role behind the scenes in the US “war on terror”.

    “The trucks were coming and going non-stop, there were people who spoke English, black men working there,” retiree Ruta Boreikiene told AFP.

    Lithuania’s minority population is minuscule, so the men’s ethnicity caught residents’ eyes.

    In August, citing unnamed former intelligence officials and logs of flights between Afghanistan and Lithuania, the American channel ABC reported that the ex-Soviet state had hosted a CIA facility. The move, ABC was told, was a trade-off for Washington’s staunch backing for Lithuania’s 2004 NATO entry.

    The Lithuanian government has acknowledged that flights refuelled in the country but denied the prison claims.

    Last month, however, President Dalia Grybauskaite said she had “indirect suspicions” about a lock-up. She was not in power when the alleged site was in operation, having been elected this year. Lithuanian lawmakers launched a formal probe earlier this month. The findings are due in December.

    “We’re conducting our inquiry, and we’re examining all possible sites,” inquiry chief Arvydas Anusauskas told AFP Thursday. “Details of our investigation will not be made public until we have completed it”.

    On Wednesday, ABC had beefed up the allegations. Citing unnamed Lithuanian officials and a former American intelligence operative, it spotlighted the Antaviliai site.

    The government hit back Thursday, with Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas saying there were “more important things in Lithuania than spending two days denying the gossip of ABC journalists”.

    Officials at Lithuania’s national property registry told AFP the building was constructed in 1992, a year after Lithuania won independence from the crumbling Soviet Union. It was sold in 1999 to two Lithuanian women who turned it into a riding school and cafe.

    In March 2004 the site was purchased by Elite LLC, a firm registered in the US state of Delaware, Panama and Washington, DC – which ABC claimed was a CIA front.

    According to information obtained by AFP, it was sold for two million litas (579,000 euros, 863,000 dollars).

    The new owners reportedly constructed a “building within a building”, where, according to ABC’s sources, suspects were interrogated using torture techniques such as sleep deprivation.

    Information obtained by AFP shows that no planning applications involving the site have been made since 2002. But locals remember the apparent scale of the US owners’ work.

    “Given the amount of earth they dug up and trucked out, and the tonnes of concrete that was brought it, it seemed obvious to me that there was some serious construction going on,” said fortysomething resident Viaceslavas, who did not give his last name.

    The register shows that the Lithuanian state bought the property in January 2007.

    Ex-communist US allies Romania and Poland have faced similar claims about secret US sites in the past, denied by their governments – although the head of a Polish parliamentary inquiry said he had “justified suspicions.”


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