Lithuania won't reopen CIA prison probe

October 24, 2011 - 10:27 AM

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuanian prosecutors won't reopen a probe into whether two CIA prisons built in the Baltic country held prisoners, despite new information provided by human rights organizations, they said Friday.

Human rights groups Amnesty International and Reprieve last month claimed that al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah was flown on a Boeing 737 from Morocco to Lithuania in February 2005 — a flight previously unknown to Lithuanian authorities.

Officials from the organizations called on prosecutors to reopen their investigation, which they closed in January for lack of evidence.

Reprieve said that it had supplied prosecutors with names of individuals — including CIA officials, Lithuanian handlers, and eyewitnesses — who could provide testimony about the flight from Morocco.

But the General Prosecutor's office said in a statement Friday that the new information was neither significant nor essential to the case.

During the past decade, hundreds of covert "extraordinary rendition" flights shuttled prisoners between CIA-run overseas prisons and the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay. The Central Intelligence Agency has never acknowledged specific locations, but prisons overseen by U.S. officials reportedly operated in Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Thailand, and Afghanistan.

A Lithuanian parliamentary investigation in 2009, as well as prosecutors' probe, found the country had allowed the CIA use of two facilities for prisons, though neither concluded that these facilities had contained prisoners at any time.

Prosecutors said the new information did not convince them otherwise.

Henrikas Mickevicius, director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, a Vilnius-based organization that helped provide new information, slammed the decision.

"Prosecutors should not assume the functions of court and shouldn't decide whether prisons of CIA were in Lithuania or not. They should investigate and then provide information for the court," he told The Associated Press.

"Prosecutors are showing that they are not independent, and not professional."

Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and taken to several CIA black sites overseas until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006, where he still is. He was reportedly waterboarded 83 times while in Thailand, according to released records and former intelligence officials.