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2019.12.02 10:34

Lithuania responds to ECHR case on alleged CIA prison

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2019.12.02 10:34

Lithuania's government has presented its position to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) following a Saudi national's claim that he was unlawfully held in a secret CIA prison in Lithuania.

Mustafa al-Hawsawi, 51, is currently being held at the US military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. The man, whom the US suspects of involvement in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was captured in Pakistan in 2003. His lawyers say that he could have been brought to Lithuania in February or October 2005 and taken out of the country in March 2006.

Karolina Bubnytė-Širmenė, Lithuania's representative at the ECHR, told BNS she provided information on the ongoing pre-trial investigation in Lithuania in the response sent to the court on Friday afternoon.

"When presenting our position, we tried to show that the national pre-trial investigation is taking every effort to eliminate those drawbacks the ECHR had identified," Bubnytė-Širmenė said.

According to her, the ECHR has been provided with as much material as possible "without undermining the pre-trial investigation's efficacy and without disclosing state secrets".

This is the second claim brought against Lithuania in the Strasbourg court in relation to allegations that the country hosted a secret CIA prison more than a decade ago.

Last May, the ECHR ruled that the CIA had secretly held Abu Zubaydah, another Saudi terror suspect, in Lithuania.

The court ordered Lithuania to pay Zubaydah 130,000 euros in damages for human rights violations. The government has placed the money into a depository account.

In the first case, Lithuanian government officials told the Strasbourg court that the suspected building in Antaviliai, in the outskirts of Vilnius, had been "an intelligence support center" and that the suspected planes had transported communication equipment rather than people to Lithuania.

A pre-trial investigation into the allegations that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA detention site has been ongoing in the country, but no formal suspicions have been brought yet.

Prosecutors have rejected lawyers' requests to grant Hawsawi the victim's status.