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Activists claim Saudi held in Lithuanian CIA site

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LIUDAS DAPKUS | September 26, 2013 11:37 AM EST | AP

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VILNIUS, Lithuania — Human rights activists said Thursday that a Saudi citizen was held at an alleged secret CIA detention site in Lithuania and urged authorities to re-open an investigation into possible rendition in the Baltic state.

Sarah Fulton, a lawyer for the rights watchdog Redress, said Mustafa al-Hawsawi, currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was secretly brought to Lithuania in March 2004 and held there until September 2006.

Al-Hawsawi is now facing trial, along with four other suspects, for alleged involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Activists said the new information came to light after a careful study of secret flights to and from Lithuania and other publicly available sources.

"With a new victim claiming that he was held in CIA secret detention in Lithuania, we urge authorities in Vilnius to renew and redouble efforts to investigate these facts," said Julia Hall, a rights expert at Amnesty International.

Lithuanian prosecutors haven't commented on the new claims.

Arturas Paulauskas, chairman of parliament's security and defense committee, suggested there would be no new parliamentary probe.

Activists "are talking about flights and numbers, but no one saw a person who may have been here," Paulauskas said.

Information about secret CIA prisons in Lithuania surfaced in 2009, and a parliamentary probe later determined that the CIA could have established two prisons in the Baltic state with the help of the country's security service. However, the probe was inconclusive as to whether the so-called black sites actually held prisoners.

Previous reports from human rights organizations claim that Abu Zubaydah, a militant, was allegedly held at a CIA site in Lithuania.

"The Lithuanian government has said time and again that if fresh information is presented, it will consider re-opening the previous investigations. Well, here it is," Hall said.

Rights activists also criticized the official probes in Lithuania.

"Lithuania's investigations have so far been manifestly insufficient in scope and rigor. According to new available data, prosecutors spent only an hour and 15 minutes inspecting the black site," said Crofton Black, a researcher with the U.K.-based Reprieve.