Published November 20, 2014
European lawmakers on Friday criticized two probes by Lithuanian authorities into alleged CIA prisons, describing them as contradictory and incomplete.
The European Parliament members said that they would attempt to rekindle inquiries about the two suspected CIA black sites in Lithuania and whether they were used to interrogate suspected terrorists. They were acting on the basis of information they received from Lithuanian prosecutors.
An investigation by Lithuanian lawmakers in 2009 found that the Baltic state had accommodated the CIA in setting up two prison facilities in 2002 and 2004, but it was unclear whether the two sites ever held prisoners. In a separate probe, prosecutors concluded that the sites never held prisoners.
"We were granted access to more data collected by Lithuanian prosecutors, and we will use it," said Helene Flautre, a European lawmaker from France.
She also expressed dismay at what she called lack of coherence in the two Lithuanian investigations, saying this "raises lots of questions."
Flautre was one of six lawmakers — members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee — on a three-day fact-finding mission in Lithuania to ascertain whether a new probe into the alleged prisons should be launched. The lawmakers met with top investigators and toured one of the alleged CIA prisons.
Speaking to reporters, Flautre suggested that more work was needed on investigating non-scheduled flights that might have been involved in transporting prisoners.
There are 29 flights in the European Union linked with secret CIA activities, she said, and more information is needed. "Not everything was investigated about suspicious flights in Lithuania too," Flautre said.
The CIA has never acknowledged specific locations, but EU-based prisons overseen by U.S. officials reportedly operated in Poland, Romania and Lithuania. Detainees have claimed that they were flown, often hooded and shackled, to the prisons, where some were exposed to simulated drowning known as waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.
Flautre said her suspicions grew during a Thursday visit to the alleged black site in Antaviliai, 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of the capital Vilnius.
"It is very strange that none of the officials we spoke to could describe the exact purpose of this facility," the lawmaker said.
Last year human rights groups Amnesty International and Reprieve claimed al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah was flown on a Boeing 737 from Morocco to Lithuania in 2005. The announcement, however, failed to convince Lithuanian authorities to reopen their probes.