Lithuania and Romania complicit in CIA torture – European court

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A detainee at Guantanamo Bay US naval base, 26 Aug 04 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The US holds terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay without charging them

European judges have ruled that Lithuania and Romania violated the rights of two al-Qaeda terror suspects by allowing the CIA to torture them.

The US captured Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri after the September 2001 attacks in the US and they are now at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The CIA operated secret prisons, including in Lithuania and Romania.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said both countries had violated the European prohibition of torture.

The existence of the so-called CIA “black sites” for interrogation – under so-called “secret rendition” – was kept secret for many years after 9/11.

Abu Zubaydah, a stateless Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia, is thought to have been al-Qaeda’s chief recruiter in the 1990s, and later became a key organiser, linking Osama Bin Laden to other al-Qaeda cells.

Saudi-born Abd al-Nashiri led al-Qaeda’s operations in the Gulf region, according to US intelligence.

The ECHR ruling said Romania hosted a CIA prison in 2003-2005, where Abd al-Nashiri was subjected to “an extremely harsh detention regime”.

The ruling said he suffered “inhuman treatment… which Romania had enabled by co-operating with the CIA”.

The same verdict was issued against Lithuania, concerning Abu Zubaydah. The CIA prison in Lithuania operated in 2005-2006.

The judges cited CIA documents, according to which terror suspects were subjected to blindfolding or hooding, solitary confinement, the continuous use of leg shackles, and excessive exposure to noise and light.

Both Lithuania and Romania had enabled the CIA to transfer the suspects to other prisons, exposing them to “a foreseeable serious risk of further ill-treatment”.

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