Transitions Online 11.12.2014
Fallout from the release of the U.S. Senate report on the CIA’s detention practices continues to roil countries across Eastern Europe.
Although Lithuania’s name is not visible in the heavily redacted report released 10 December, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius called on Washington to reveal whether it housed inmates in a CIA facility outside Vilnius in the 2000s, Reuters reports.
A parliamentary committee that tried to get to the bottom of the issue in 2009-10 established that the CIA set up a site that could be used as a detention center and had run flights into and out of Lithuania. But on the question of whether it held prisoners there, Washington stonewalled, according to Reuters.
Butkevicius urged the parliament to reopen its investigation.
The Senate report refers to a detention center “Violet” that took its first detainees in 2003 and that Lithuanian lawmakers suspect is the site in the Baltic country.
If they are correct, someone in Lithuania knows about it. The report states, “The CIA entered into an agreement with the [redacted] in Country to host a CIA detention facility in [redacted] 2002.” The next year, the CIA sought ways to “demonstrate to [redacted] and the highest levels of the [Country [redacted]] government that we deeply appreciate their cooperation and support for the detention program.” In response, the CIA was handed a “$[redacted] million ‘wish list’ ” and provided “$[redacted] million more than was requested.”
Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania’s president from 1998 to 2003 and 2004 to 2009, “said he still believed there were no secret prisons or prisoners in Lithuania,” Reuters reports, citing local media.
Prosecutors in Lithuania, who also tried to investigate the issue without success, will ask for more complete information from Washington, according to the news agency.
In Poland – where the report suggests the CIA also displayed its largess in exchange for cooperation on the “black site” program – two former top officials reversed denials that they had allowed such detention centers on Polish soil but maintained they had not countenanced torture, the Associated Press reports.
Former President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the prison “was part of ‘deepened’ intelligence cooperation with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism after the 11 September attacks, and he insisted he had no knowledge of what took place inside it. He said he only learned that detainees had been tortured there from leaks to the press starting in 2006,” the AP writes.
Ex-Prime Minister Leszek Miller also acknowledged the existence of the prison, according to the AP.
In Albania, the CIA unloaded Khalid al-Masri, a German citizen whom it had apprehended in Macedonia in 2004 on suspicion that he “had key information that could assist the capture of other al-Qaeda operatives that posed a threat to U.S. persons and interests,” Balkan Insight reports.
After it became clear that al-Masri had no such links, the security agency mulled how to release him. The Senate report does not mention Macedonia or Albania, but a 2007 Council of Europe review quotes an American official saying Skopje did not want to take al-Masri back. Albania was the CIA’s “second choice,” Balkan Insight writes.
“After al-Masri arrived in [redacted], officers released him and sent him toward a fake border crossing, where the officers told him he would be sent back to Germany because he had entered illegally,” the Senate report states. “At the time of his release, al-Masri was provided 14,500 euros, as well as his belongings.”
Lithuania renews call for answers on alleged CIA detention center