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Romania and Lithuania Accepted Secret CIA Jails, Court Finds

BUCHAREST, Romania—The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that Romania and Lithuania allowed the detention and abuse of a Saudi and a Palestinian at secret U.S. prisons.

The Strasbourg, France-based court said Thursday that Abd al-Rahim Al Nashiri, a Saudi national later sent to Guantanamo Bay, was detained and abused in Romania between Sept. 2003 and Oct. 2005, and urged Romania to investigate and punish perpetrators.

The court concluded that Al-Nashiri was blindfolded, hooded, shackled, kept in solitary confinement, and subjected to loud noise and bright light during his detention at the CIA prison in Romania.

Romania denies hosting such CIA facilities. There was no immediate reaction from the government.

Al Nashiri’s lawyer, Amrit Singh, called the ruling “a sharp rebuke to Romania’s shameful attempts” to conceal its hosting of a secret CIA prison. He was the lead lawyer on the case with the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative.

The court also said that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA detention facility from February 2005 to March 2006 where Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian suspected of being a planner for the Sept. 11 attacks, was detained.

It ruled that Lithuania allowed him to be moved to another CIA detention site in Afghanistan, “exposing him to further ill-treatment.” He is currently detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Lithuanian authorities said they would consider appealing the court’s decision and may also investigate the claims again.

Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevicius told reporters that “we will take a decision after carefully examining,” the ruling. Vytautas Bakas, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for national security and defense, said he would propose opening a new probe.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, however, contradicted the justice minister and said in a statement that the small Baltic country’s “reputation damage is done,” adding that Lithuania “thus will have to execute a court judgment” and pay Zubaydah 130,000 euros ($152,000). She has regularly clashed with the Lithuanian government and forced a minister to resign after expressing her distrust.

A 2009 investigation in Lithuania concluded that the country’s intelligence agency helped the CIA set up two small detention centers there, but did not determine whether the facilities were actually used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects.

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Dapkas reported from Vilnius, Lithuania.

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ALISON MUTLER and LIUDAS DAPKAS / The Associated Press

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