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21 Aug, 2009 18:00

Fresh twist in secret CIA prisons saga

Lithuania is among three European states which hosted secret CIA prisons reportedly holding top Al Qaeda suspects, American media is reporting, citing unnamed former CIA officials.

Lithuania joins Poland and Romania as countries which are believed to have provided facilities on their territory for secret prisons.

Up to eight prisoners were held in the secret facility in Vilnius for a year until 2005, ABC news reported, citing an unnamed official. Lithuania agreed to host a prison in exchange for better ties with the Bush administration, one official reportedly said.

The Lithuanian government has strongly denied the allegations.

“All this is rumors and speculation,” said Rolandas Kacinskas, a spokesperson for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. “There have never been any U.S. prisons on Lithuanian territory.”

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė also expressed regret about the allegations.

“This is very unpleasant news,” she said. “It’s very bad that the name of Lithuania has been noticed in the context of such events.”

Dalia Grybauskaitė has called for an official investigation into the matter and the Lithuanian Parliament will consider a probe next week.

Similar secret facilities were also controlled by the CIA in Morocco, a former CIA official told The New York Times. He also disclosed the locations of the detention centers and how and by whom they were constructed.

Washington has been repeatedly accused of transferring suspected terrorists to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques.

By collaborating with CIA anti-terrorist activities, European governments have shown their political irresponsibility, European Parliament member Giulietto Chiesa told RT.

“There is the possibility that not completely government but local secret services – now we know probably in Lithuania and in other places in Europe – have been connected with CIA decisions and operated independently under their own government,” Chiesa said. “If it’s the case, it should be even more serious, because we would have not only a violation of European rules on human rights, but also very illegal behavior of secret services. In any case, the political responsibility of this government has been clearly demonstrated.”