Detention centre in Lithuania opened after inmate won compensation

Lithuania has opened up a former riding club on the outskirts of its capital Vilnius to the media which was once used by the CIA as a rendition facility.

It came after the Justice Ministry paid compensation to Abu Zubaydah, who, according to human rights groups, was tortured whilst being interrogated by the CIA in Lithuania.

The US suspected him of working for Al-Qaeda and helping plan the 9/11 attacks and he remains incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

Zubaydah, a Palestinian who was born in Saudi Arabia, took Lithuania to the European Court of Human Rights in 2018 and won.

It ruled that he was illegally held in a secret prison in Lithuania and ordered him to receive €100,000 in compensation.

It also ordered Vilnius to investigate the timeline of his presence in Lithuania.

Lithuania has never admitted that the facility in Antaviliai was the ‘Violet’ site referred to in the 2014 US Senate report on the secret CIA network, however, it matches the description given in the report.

Vilnius says the CIA used it as an “intelligence support centre” some 20 kilometres from Belarus and that the ECHR based its ruling on circumstantial evidence. The court is now considering a second case tied to the site brought by Saudi national Mustafa al-Hawsawi.

Pressured by the newly-elected president Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s parliament held an inquiry in 2009 and concluded that the site was one of the two affiliated with the CIA.

The report said that it had suitable premises for a prison and that Lithuania could not control what was happening inside. But it did not establish the presence of any prisoners despite a number of CIA-connected flights that were waived border checks.

The site has been a training centre for Lithuania’s intelligence service since 2007. The complex is now being prepared for an auction sale.

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