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25 Aug, 2009 05:03

CIA tortured terror suspects in Lithuanian secret prison – report

It’s claimed Lithuania, a former Soviet republic on the Baltic Sea, provided the CIA with facilities where as many as eight terror suspects were held, according to information given to ABC News by unnamed CIA sources.

The White House is beginning a criminal probe into CIA interrogation methods, after it was revealed they broke Presidential guidelines. Questions continue as to what countries provided the agency with facilities to allegedly torture terror suspects.

Deep woods’ secret

The quiet, bright countryside around the capital of Lithuania is reportedly hiding a dark secret. It’s here, about 20 minutes’ drive south of Vilnius, that some believe was the location of a secret prison where the CIA brought terror suspects to be tortured.

According to ABC News, information received from some CIA sources alleges a so-called “black site prison” existed on the outskirts of Vilnius for more than a year, until 2005.

Flight logs show CIA planes regularly flew in and out of Vilnius during that time. A disused ex-Soviet army base, miles from the nearest house, would serve as a perfect cover.

The base is located in the heart of Lithuania’s fifth-largest forest, about 40 kilometers south of Vilnius, and just 30 kilometers from Vilnius International airport.

The base also has its own airstrip. It’s quiet, undisturbed, and surrounded by the ultimate deterrent to inquisitive journalists – unexploded bombs.

Illegal prison in Lithuania – quite possible?

This isn’t the first time Lithuania has been implicated in the US’s extraordinary anti-terror program. At a Council of Europe debate in 2005, it was named along with Poland and Romania, as the host of an illegal prison, but managed to escape direct accusation.

“The first thing for now is to have a list of the people who have been detained in Lithuania,” said Giulietto Chiesa, former European Parliament member.

“And the problem is that there have been torture, illegal interrogation and very serious violations of human rights there. That means there are political and penal responsibilities”.

Down at Vilnius City Hall, opposition politician Algirdas Paleckis, chairman of Frontas Party, says Lithuania’s foreign policy in the last twenty years makes a CIA prison camp highly likely.

“Lithuania has always acted and still acts as a satellite of the United States in Europe,” believes Paleckis.

“If one day the truth were to be disclosed, the argument would be, you know, ‘we have our privileged relations with the US, we have to pay for it, and the price for our NATO security, and Article Five security guarantees’. The price is to send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, and to take possible prisoners.”

Lithuania’s government is denying the allegations and has issued an unequivocal statement:

“The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry denies any ungrounded assumptions or rumors about secret CIA prisons in the country”.

On the streets of Vilnius, people have heard the media allegations that up to eight terror suspects may have been held and tortured in their country. But there’s doubt, outright denial, and disbelief.

Despite the US insistence on putting the past behind them, the Lithuanian parliament has announced it will launch an investigation into the allegations. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is doing the same.

CIA anti-terrorism activity scrutinized

The CIA is releasing a report which reveals how the agency has been interrogating detainees at its secret prisons.

The 2004 review, which had been suppressed until now, reportedly contains details of how CIA officers carried out mock executions to frighten terrorism suspects into giving information.

In the wake of the report, the U.S. Justice Department is calling for a host of prisoner abuse cases to be reopened.

And President Barack Obama has approved the creation of a new interrogation unit led by an FBI official and directly supervised by the White House.

It has also been reported that CIA and Blackwater had a special relationship. The private military firm was contracted by the U.S. government to provide security services to top U.S. officials in Iraq.

Several years ago, Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq was revoked by the country’s government following an incident in which 17 Iraqis were killed.