Lithuanian report inconclusive on how secret CIA prisons were used

By Liudas Dapkus
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA -- Lithuania's intelligence agency helped the CIA set up secret prisons in the Baltic country, but it is unclear whether the facilities were actually used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects, a parliamentary panel said Tuesday.

The report by the Lithuanian legislature's National Security Committee drew on testimony by top politicians and national security officials. The investigation was launched after media reports this year suggested that Lithuania -- a close ally in the U.S. fight against terrorism -- had hosted clandestine detention centers.

"We have determined that the Lithuanian State Security Department has received requests from the CIA to establish detention facilities," said Arvydas Anusauskas, chairman of the committee.

The report said that the State Security Department, the former Soviet republic's top security agency, provided two facilities to the CIA. One was a small cell, set up in 2002, that could house only one suspect. The other was set up in 2004 and was big enough to hold eight suspects, the panel said.

There was no evidence, the panel added, that the State Security Department had informed the president, prime minister or other political leaders of its cooperation with the CIA. The country's former leaders have denied any knowledge of the secret prisons.

Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania's president from 1998 to 2003 and then 2004 to 2009, disputed the panel's findings.

"I am absolutely sure that there was no CIA prison in Lithuania. Nobody proved this to me," Adamkus said.

Anusauskas said aircraft involved in transporting prisoners had entered Lithuanian airspace and landed in Vilnius, the country's capital, on several occasions from 2002 to 2005. "Those airplanes were not checked by border police and customs," he said. "Persons traveling and cargo were never identified."

But the panel said it found no evidence that any suspects were interrogated in Lithuania.

Though inconclusive, the probe has shaken Lithuania's leadership. President Dalia Grybauskaite has demanded that the former director of the State Security Department, Mecys Laurinkus, immediately step down as ambassador to Georgia. Povilas Malakauskas resigned as the department's director last week, citing "personal reasons."

Grybauskaite had called for the investigation, saying Lithuania's reputation was at stake.

"Lithuania will be respected as a country only when we manage to keep both our people and outsiders from stomping on human rights and risking the country's security," she said Tuesday.

The parliamentary panel urged prosecutors to launch a criminal investigation into the State Security Department's involvement in the case.

-- Associated Press

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