Amnesty urges new Lithuania probe of CIA prisons

VILNIUS Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:52pm EDT

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VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania, which has said it hosted a secret detention facility for terror suspects, must re-open a criminal investigation into human rights abuses there, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Lithuania was the first country in Europe to say it worked with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in establishing two secret detention facilities between 2002 and 2006. Its inquiry failed to establish whether any detainees were held and a prosecutor's office criminal probe was dropped in January.

"There is enough information in the public domain to make it imperative for the criminal investigation to be re-opened," Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on counterterrorism and human rights in Europe, told a media conference.

Amnesty said the authorities must investigate allegations that Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah had been held in Lithuania, including a February 2005 flight from Morocco to Vilnius uncovered by London-based rights group Reprieve.

It should also look at aircraft landings in Lithuania in September 2004 and July 2005, which may have been part of the U.S.-led rendition and secret detention programs, and links between aircraft landings in Lithuania and a number of other European countries, including Poland.

Lawyers for Abu Zubaydah in Poland have asked prosecutors to investigate allegations that U.S. agents abused him at a now-closed secret CIA prison. Polish officials have consistently denied the existence of such prisons.

Former President George W. Bush wrote in his memoirs that he authorized waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, on Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of involvement in a plot to attack Los Angeles airport.

Reprieve has said Abu Zubaydah was held in secret detention in Lithuania sometime between early 2004 and September 2006.

Darius Raulusaitis, deputy prosecutor general, told journalists prosecutors would decide within a few weeks whether to restart the investigation.

"It's news for us that this person (Abu Zubaydah) was brought on that flight to Lithuania, as the report of Amnesty International suggests ... The prosecutor decided to close the investigation based on the fact that there was no evidence of detainees," he added.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Tim Pearce)

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