Prosecutors drop CIA prison investigation

  • 2011-01-17
  • TBT Staff

The investigation into the alleged secret CIA prison camp was dropped due to lack of evidence. (photo from archive)

VILNIUS - Lithuanian prosecutors have dropped the investigation into the existence of a secret CIA prison that allegedly housed suspects with connections to Al-Qaeda.

In 2009, U.S. TV station ABC News, citing unnamed ex-CIA officials, claimed Lithuania hosted a prison for "high-value" al Qaeda suspects, near Vilnius, from Sept. 2004 through Nov. 2005.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Junkeviciene told the Baltic News Service that the investigation was most likely dropped because of a lack of evidence.

"Prosecutors need facts. This is how I understand their decision," she said. "[One] shouldn’t forget that this is not only a Lithuanian issue, and if other states fail to give necessary information, or people who know something also don’t want to give information, then in fact it’s pretty hard to say something."

When news of the alleged prison emerged it caused an uproar in Lithuanian politics, with the country's top leadership denouncing the alleged prison camp.

“A small group of the State Security Department’s officers took the decision to build this detention center without informing society or, possibly, state leaders, and they circumvented parliamentary control," Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said at the time.

A parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the allegations at the time found that the first facility was built in 2002, and was designed for detaining a single suspect, but it was never used. A second facility on the outskirts of Vilnius was established in 2004.

The committee also said that five airplanes “linked to the CIA” landed in Vilnius and Palanga airports from 2002-2005, and on at least two occasions border procedures were bypassed with the help of high-ranking Lithuanian State Security officials.

The commission was unable to determine if any detainees were brought to the site.