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15 Dec, 2009 06:58

Secret prison refusal led to my impeachment: former Lithuanian president

Former Lithuanian president Rolandas Paksas has claimed that his 2004 impeachment was orchestrated by the US because he refused to host CIA secret prisons in the country.

The statement was made during a parliamentary hearing into claims that at least eight al-Qaeda terror suspects were held at a facility just outside the capital Vilnius between 2004 and 2005.

"When I was a president, I knew that there were people who wanted to bring terror suspects to Lithuania. I think that my principal disagreement to do this led to the subsequent anti-presidential campaign and impeachment,” Paksas was quoted by NTV TV Channel as saying.

Paksas said that in spring 2003, the then-head of Lithuania’s State Security Department, Megys Laurinkus, asked him if it were possible to bring some US terror suspects to the country unofficially, Kommersant newspaper reports. In doing so, Laurinkus hinted that a positive answer would help foreign partners.

Paksas said he refused to agree. Half a year later, he was accused of a tight connection with a Russian entrepreneur, Yury Borisov, and illegally granting him Lithuanian citizenship in exchange for sponsorship of his presidential campaign. In April, 2004 the country’s parliament voted for the President Paksas’ impeachment.

Megys Laurinkus confirms the fact of his conversation with Rolandas Paksas.

“I informed Mr. Paksas about the present situation and about the possibility of such a request which could be received by Lithuania,” he said.

However, the former security head said that he is not connecting the conversation with the fact of Paksas’s impeachment and resignation in 2004.

RT contributor Wayne Madsen has added some more details in regard to the Paksas impeachment.

”Rolandas Paksas was impeached by the Lithuanian parliament. He was replaced by the ex-president Valdas Adamkus and Adamkus is a former US army officer who went back to Lithuania, became president of the country, replaced president Paksas after he was impeached and of course then any interest in doing anything about investigating the CIA “black site” [prison] in Lithuania disappeared,” Madsen said.

The allegations of Lithuania hosting a secret CIA prison were made public by the American ABC television network last August.

Initially, Lithuanian officials denied the claims, but later the country's president called for a full investigation, which is expected to wrap up within a week.

On Monday, the chief of the country's Security Service resigned – a move that has been linked to the ongoing prison scandal.