The CIA had at least two ‘black sites’ in Lithuania where they tortured illegally held victims of ‘extraordinary rendition’, a Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry has found.
A parliamentary inquiry was launched following US media reports in November that Lithuania, Poland and Romania hosted CIA ‘black sites’.
The Lithuanian parliamentary committee reported yesterday that in 2005 and 2006 CIA chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania.
It said that no Lithuanian officials were allowed near the aircraft, nor were they told who was on board, but that at least eight people described as ‘terror suspects’ were held at one centre.
The centre, on the outskirts of the capital Vilnius, was formerly a riding school.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite reported yesterday that a parliamentary investigation set up at her initiative had confirmed the existence of special buildings that served as a secret CIA prison which operated in the country from September 2004 until November 2005.
The findings of the special parliamentary committee, published yesterday, said infrastructure that could have been used as a prison had been constructed.
American broadcaster ABC and the Washington Post newspaper claimed in November that a secret facility capable of holding up to eight terrorism suspects, had operated at the Antaviliai equestrian complex located 20 kilometres outside Vilnius.
A concrete wall was reportedly built inside the stable block by English-speaking contractors to create a secret ‘building within a building’.
President Grybauskaite’s spokesman, Linas Balsys said yesterday: ‘Basically, the president’s suspicions were confirmed, as the committee’s investigation found that there were special buildings equipped for this (purpose), they existed and could have been adapted to accommodate detainees.’
Arvydas Anusauskas, the chairman of the National Security and Defence Committee that conducted the investigation told a news conference it had uncovered suspicious US flights to the Baltic state, but that: ‘It was not possible to determine the identity of passengers, cargo or destination’.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said the report’s findings were serious but should not be allowed to damage relations with the US.
‘The US is a strategic ally of Lithuania in all fields, including covert operations and counter-terrorism.
‘However, the strategic partnership should not be an excuse to use essentially Soviet methods, ignoring civilian controls and breaking the law,’ he said.
During the investigation, numerous senior figures, including former presidents and security officials, were questioned.
On December 18 President Grybauskaite signed a decree dismissing Povilas Malakauskas as general director of Lithuania’s national intelligence service.
Malakauskas had tendered his resignation on December 14 without giving a clear explanation for doing so.
Tim Cooke-Hurle, an investigator for prisoners’ rights lawyers Reprieve, told News Line yesterday: ‘Our position is that we are very pleased with the parliamentary inquiry in Lithuania drawing these facts to the public attention.
‘It is essential that the inquiry uncovers who was held, what was done to them, when they were held and where these individuals are now.’