16 March 2010, Vilnius

CIA-"Extraordinary Rendition" Program: "What’s Next for Lithuania?"

16 March 2010, 12:00 am

Organized in colaboration with The Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI): Law School of Vilnius University

In August 2009 an American ABC journalist reported that eight terror suspects were taken by the CIA to secret prisons near Vilnius. According to testimonies, suspects were imprisoned and tortured by US secret agents and Lithuanian government officials. After initially denying the accusations, the Lithuanian government instigated a parliamentary investigatory committee on the 5 November. The report of their investigation was published on the 22 December. In the investigation that followed it was found that there may have been two CIA prisons. It has yet to proven that combatants were detained or held at these alleged prisons by members of the American Secret Service.

In any case, there were prisons and they were maintained through the Lithuanian government. At a presentation of the court's findings Arvydas Anusauskas, the chairman of the committee, testified that   "..structures were built and facilities were functional; the Lithuanian borders could be crossed and aeroplanes had landed". At this point it is unclear whether suspects were brought to Lithuania to be interrogated. The Lithuanian authorities were not able to carry out standard controls, emphasized Ausaukas. In addition, the report highlighted the imperative to reform the state secrets service (VSD).

After the release of the report Povilas Malakaukas, who was until then the incumbent head of the VSD, decided to step down "for personal reasons". Shortly after this, President Dalia Grybauskaite ordered the dismissal of the Lithuanian ambassador to Georgia, Mecys Laurinkus, who had previously been the head of the secret service.

A public conference involving Lithuanian and international experts will be held in Vilnius on the 22 March. The conference will discuss the legal steps can be taken both to shed light on the facts of the case, and to prosecute those responsible. The conference will be attended by a working group of experts and NGO
representatives. The conference will focus on sharing experiences, building networks and forging co-operation, as well as the discussion of a concrete legal strategy.


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