23rd Jan 2022

Secret CIA prison revealed in Lithuania

A Lithuanian riding school has been named as the site of a secret location used by the US Central Intelligence Agency to interrogate individuals during the War on Terror.

An American television channel, ABC, reported on Thursday that a previously unidentified CIA prison was situated at a riding academy and cafe not far from the capital, Vilnius, where up to eight al Qaeda suspects were held for over a year until late 2005.

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  • Council of Europe map of alleged secret prison sites and flight paths of 'extraordinary rendition' missions (Photo: Council of Europe)

The report cites unnamed Lithuanian officials and an ex-intelligence agent from the US who were either involved with the "black site" or had been briefed on its existence.

The officials said that the prison was one of eight such facilities around the world used to house al Qaeda suspects.

The US TV crew viewed flight logs of aircraft used in the operations, which detailed flights transporting individuals to and from secret prisons in Lithuania, Afghanistan, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Thailand and Guantanamo Bay.

False flight plans were submitted to European aviation authorities, according to one interviewed official.

In Lithuania, pilots were told to hand in flight plans that described destinations in neighbouring countries.

"Finland and Poland were used most frequently" with the Baltic nation, the ex-CIA officer told the programme.

An official also said that Lithuania had agreed to hosting the secret prison without demanding anything in return from the US.

"We didn't have to," the individual said, "They were happy to have our ear."

The revelation comes as Vilnius this month launched an investigation into whether the US programme operated out of the former Soviet Bloc nation.

The government however hit out at the US television station, slamming the report as "gossip".

"There are more important things in Lithuania than spending two days denying the gossip of ABC journalists," said foreign minister Vygaudas Usackas, according to the Baltic News Service.

"We have to follow hard facts rather than rumours and wild tales," he added.

"Therefore it is vital that we conduct an investigation and clear any doubts."

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