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22 Dec, 2009 15:46

Lithuanian probe blames top officials for CIA prison scandal

Lithuania provided all the necessary conditions for operating a CIA secret prison for terror detainees, a parliamentary investigation has confirmed.

In light of the report, Lithuania’s prime minister has called for a crackdown on corruption in the country’s security services.

The Baltic state did everything to make the CIA prison near capital Vilnius fully operational, a report of the National Security and Defense Committee said on Tuesday. It included the facility itself, as well as logistical support for covert transportation of suspects. Numerous aircraft possibly linked to the CIA landed in Lithuania between 2002 and 2005 and were spared border inspection.

The investigation pinpointed several top officials, including former heads of the Lithuanian Department for State Security, who were aware of the situation, but “failed to properly inform the country’s leadership about the aims and substance” of the detention program.

At the same time, the report suggests MPs did not have evidence that the site was actually used for its intended purpose.

“There were facilities and opportunities for crossing Lithuania's border by planes that had a link to the CIA, but it turns out to be impossible to establish the identities of those passengers onboard and the purpose of the cargoes,” the chairman of the committee Arvydas Anusauskas told the news conference on the results of investigation.

“There were conditions for delivering suspected terrorists to Lithuania, but whether they had been taken there or not – we did not find out,” he added.

Commenting on the report, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius called for a complete revamp of the national security service and an investigation into possible corruption among security and diplomatic officials.

Kubilius called the agreement with the CIA “a decision taken by a small number of officials which was implemented in violation of intelligence and financial legislation and with no concern for the negative consequences to Lithuania’s international reputation.”

However, a leader of the opposition party “Front”, Algirdas Paleckis, does not believe in any legal consequences of the investigation.

“Basically you can say the commission admitted that there was a CIA prison in Lithuania. While this affair will have moral ramifications, I doubt there will be any legal consequences like a further investigation because there is no clear-cut evidence. Even the victims, the so-called terrorists, have not been found,” he said.

“Most probably, things will stay where they are now. The authorities will recognize the fact implicitly, but not officially,” he added.

The parliamentary investigation was launched after a series of reports in the American media exposed Lithuania as one of the countries which operated CIA secret prisons.

But historian and investigative journalist Webster Tarpley says that now that the official probe has proven the allegations true, the official US media is trying to cover the story up.

“This is a very bitter pill [for Lithuania],” Tarpley told RT. “It is clear that as a price for NATO membership, Lithuania was forced to let the CIA run wild with kidnappings, secret prisons and no charges, no due process, no notifications to the International Red Cross – none of this stuff.”