Lithuania ‘hosted at least two secret CIA prisons’

A Lithuanian inquiry has found that the US Central Intelligence Agency set up and used secret prisons on its soil following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US.

Lithuania‘s intelligence agency assisted the CIA-run secret prisons, which were used to hold at least eight al-Qaeda suspects, the parliamentary panel in charge of the probe said in a report on Tuesday.

The National Security Committee report records instances in 2005 and 2006 when chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania, adding that all the Lithuanian officials, including President Dalia Grybauskaitė, were kept in the dark about the aircraft’s passengers.

The report, which is based on testimony of top politicians and intelligence officials, also sought to close the door on any charges of human rights violations on the grounds that no official was ever aware of exactly what was happening in the US-run prisons.

It said Lithuania’s State Security Department (Valstybės saugumo departamento) provided two facilities to the CIA.

A single detention cell was set up to house one suspect in 2002 and a former riding school on the outskirts of the capital Vilnius was turned into a larger facility in 2004, big enough to hold eight suspects.

Since August 2009, the US media reports have accused Lithuania, Poland and Romania, of hosting to secret CIA interrogation centers, reigniting concerns over the exact number of these facilities and the extent to which the spy agency used its questionable tactics.

They have contributed to straining Washington’s relations with some of its key allies during former president George W. Bush‘s administration.

One such former ally, Britain, is now under increasing pressure to investigate whether its own agents were involved in the alleged CIA torture of the British citizens in Pakistan.

Lithuania’s spy chief, Povilas Malakauskas, resigned last week as controversy mounted over the secret jails. A lawmaker said the resignation was “partly” because of the government’s efforts to investigate the details surrounding the CIA facility.

According to the conclusions of a 2007 probe conducted on behalf of the Council of Europe, 14 European governments are accused of having permitted the CIA to run detention centers on their soil or to carry out rendition flights between 2002 and 2005.

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