December 10, 2014 / 12:20 PM / 5 years ago

Lithuania presses Washington to say whether it tortured prisoners there

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius called on Washington on Wednesday to say whether the CIA used his country to house one of the bases where it tortured prisoners, after a U.S. Senate report into abuse by the spy agency.

Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius speaks during floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) "Independence" welcome ceremony in Klaipeda port October 27, 2014. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Lithuania was not named in the heavily redacted report on CIA torture released on Tuesday.

But the description of a “detention center Violet” is consistent with a 2009-2010 Lithuanian parliament investigation, which found that the CIA set up and ran premises that could be used as a detention center near the capital Vilnius.

The Lithuanian investigation found that the CIA ran flights in and out of the country, but could not determine whether the site was used to house prisoners because U.S. officials refused to cooperate.

“The U.S. Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site,” lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas, who headed the parliamentary investigation, told Reuters.

Prime Minister Butkevicius said he now hoped parliament would reopen the investigation and that the United States would share information about its activity.

“I expect that cooperation will remain on a high level and the information will be shared and exchanged,” he told reporters.

The prosecutor general’s office, which was also investigating CIA bases, will ask Washington to provide a full version of the U.S. Senate report, or at least an unredacted version of the 600-page summary published on Tuesday, prosecutor Irmantas Mikelionis told reporters.

The prosecutors’ investigations were halted in 2011 due to lack of proof. A new investigation, focusing on the possible illegal border crossing of CIA prisoner Mustafa al-Hawsawi, started earlier this year.

The Senate report said the U.S. government paid at least $1 million to “show appreciation” for establishing detention center Violet, and “complex mechanisms” were developed to pay out the money.

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi now held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, says he was kept in the secret CIA site in Lithuania and has asked the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights to rule that Lithuania acted illegally.

Lithuania’s former president Valdas Adamkus, in power from 1998 to 2003 and 2004 to 2009, said he still believed there were no secret prisons or prisoners in Lithuania.

“I was assured by top-ranking officials of our security agencies that there is no prison in Lithuania and that nobody ever delivered the prisoners,” Adamkus told the local BNS news service .

“Until I see documents before my eyes about someone secretly bringing prisoners into Lithuania, I will stick to my position that there were no prisons or prisoners in Lithuania,” he said.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Alistair Scrutton, Peter Graff and Giles Elgood

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