* Aide charged with leaking about alleged Russian smear plan
* Media, politicians have criticised investigation
* President has said to decide prosecutor's future
By Andrius Sytas
VILNIUS, June 23 Lithuania's presidential
spokeswoman was charged on Monday with leaking secret
intelligence to the media, in a decisive step by prosecutors
whose months-long investigation has been sharply criticised by
journalists and politicians.
Prosecutors have searched the homes and tapped the phones of
several journalists and have tried to question President Dalia
Grybauskaite to find out who leaked an intelligence report that
said Russia was preparing to smear her.
Grybauskaite, who has many times in the past criticised
Prosecutor General Darius Valys and has suggested his position
is at risk, declined to be questioned, citing immunity.
"We have not determined this (that the president has been
involved) so our decision is to file the criminal case with the
court and have one person accused of revealing a state secret,"
prosecutor Gintas Ivanauskas told reporters after the
spokeswoman, Daiva Ulbinaite, was charged.
The investigation centres around a report last October by
the Baltic News Service (BNS) which cited an intelligence report
that said the Kremlin was planning to discredit the president of
the former Soviet state by publishing false information about
The investigation was started after a complaint by
Lithuania's intelligence service, which authored the secret
report. The agency said its sources might have been compromised
by the leak.
Ulbinaite denies all charges, her lawyer, Giedrius Danelius,
told Reuters. She faces up to three years in jail for revealing
state secrets and an abuse of office charge that could be
punished by up to five years.
Ulbinaite has stepped down while the legal process
continues. The president refused to fire her in December when
reports of her involvement first surfaced and she said the
intelligence report was not sensitive enough to be marked as
secret in the first place.
Moscow has not reacted to the report.
The Kremlin was angered by Grybauskaite's push to get an
association treaty between Ukraine and the European Union signed
in Vilnius, when Lithuania had the rotating EU presidency, BNS
reported. Ukraine's then-president, Viktor Yanukovich, refused
to sign the treaty, leading to mass protests and eventually his
Grybauskaite, a former EU commissioner, has said she would
determine whether the chief prosecutor and the head of
intelligence were fit to continue to serve after she takes her
oath for a second term next month, after a landslide victory in
elections in May.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)