Lithuanian government opts to litigate 2nd CIA prison claim in Strasbourg court

  • 2019-02-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The government decided to litigate a second claim brought against Lithuania in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to allegations that the country hosted a secret CIA prison more than a decade ago.

"We have no tangible or reasonable evidence whatsoever that the person could have been in Lithuania," Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis told reporters. "There's absolutely nothing". 

In late January, the Strasbourg-based court accepted a petition filed by Mustafa al-Hawsawi, a Saudi national who claims that he was illegally detained in Lithuania, and asked the government to submit its position.  

The Cabinet discussed two possible options: one was to seek an amicable settlement and the other was to dismiss the claim and litigate. 

"We won't conclude an amicable settlement," Skvernelis said.

The prime minister said the Cabinet was provided with information about al-Hawsawi at the meeting. 

"There are precedents where it has been confirmed that these claims (by al-Hawsawi) against other countries are unfounded," he said.

The 50-year-old Saudi national is currently being held at the US military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. The man, whom the US suspect of involvement in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was captured in Pakistan in 2003. 

Last May, the ECHR ruled that the CIA had secretly held Abu Zubaydah, another Saudi terror suspect, in Lithuania.

The court ordered Lithuania to pay Zubaydah 130,000 euros in damages for human rights violations. The government has placed the money into a depository account.

A pre-trial investigation into the allegations that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA detention site has been ongoing in the country, but no formal suspicions have been brought yet.

Lithuanian government officials told the Strasbourg court that the suspected building in Antaviliai, in the outskirts of Vilnius, had been "an intelligence support center" and that the suspected planes had transported communication equipment rather than people to Lithuania.