Friday 22 February 2019

CIA 'turned school into prison for terrorism suspects'

Andrew Osborn in Moscow

A former riding school in Lithuania was used as a secret CIA prison to hold and interrogate al-Qa'ida terrorist suspects, it is claimed.

The allegations sparked a parliamentary inquiry in the Baltic state after President Dalia Grybauskaite said she harboured "indirect suspicions" that such a facility existed.

According to unnamed former intelligence operatives quoted by ABC News, the CIA built the jail in 2004 and used it for more than a year, flying in at least eight suspected al-Qa'ida terrorists from Afghanistan.

The prison was reported to have been built from scratch on the land of a former riding school about 15 miles from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

The site was apparently bought from a family in 2004 by a US-registered firm and a "building within a building" was constructed.

Pictures of a building said to be the former CIA jail show a bland two-storey house surrounded by a fence and CCTV cameras.

Politicians who were in office at the time have denied all knowledge of such a prison.

But Ms Grybauskaite has insisted the claims be properly investigated: "If this is true, Lithuania has to clean up, accept responsibility, apologise, and promise that it will never happen again."

The claim has damaged its relations with Washington, with Lithuania saying it will not accept any former prisoners from Guantanamo Bay until the matter is clarified.

Former US government officials have suggested that Lithuania was eager to please the Bush administration at the time in order to thank it for securing Lithuania's membership of Nato in 2002. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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