August 25, 2009 / 1:41 PM / in 8 years

Lithuania to probe CIA prison claims-president

By Marcin Grajewski

BRUSSELS, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Lithuania will investigate allegations that the former Soviet country hosted a secret CIA prison for al Qaeda suspects, its president said on Tuesday.

ABC News reported last week that Lithuania was the third European country after Poland and Romania to have provided the Central Intelligence Agency with facilities for detaining and, possibly, interrogating terror suspects.

The U.S. television station quoted unnamed former CIA officials as saying the Baltic country provided a building on the outskirts of the capital. Up to eight suspects were held for more than a year, until late 2005 when they were moved.

"I do not have at this point any confirmation of that. Lithuania will be investigating (this)," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told a news conference during a visit to Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.

"It is regretful that my country’s name is on the list. It will be for us to prove if it is true of not."

Lithuania’s former president and prime minister have denied the existence of such prisons. Lithuania, a country of 3.5 million people, joined the EU in 2004.

The Washington Post reported for the first time in 2005, quoting unnamed CIA sources, that CIA prisons existed in Europe as part of former President George W. Bush’s "war on terror" in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A U.S. human rights group, Human Rights Watch, said Poland and Romania hosted the prisons, which was confirmed in separate reports by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

Polish prosecutors are still investigating the allegations. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said any EU member states should probe such reports.

"We have repeatedly stressed the need for member states to start or continue in-depth, independent, impartial investigations to establish the truth of such claims," he told the news conference. (Reporting by Marcin Grajewski, editing by Robert Woodward)

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