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Lithuania spy unit aided CIA, panel says

Prisons were provided. It is not known if terror suspects were questioned there.

VILNIUS, Lithuania - Lithuania's intelligence agency helped the CIA set up secret prisons in the Baltic country, but it's unclear whether they were actually used to interrogate terror suspects, a parliamentary panel said yesterday.

The report by the Lithuanian legislature's National Security Committee was based on testimony of top politicians and national security officials. Its investigation was launched after media reports suggested this year that Lithuania - a close ally in the U.S. war on terror - hosted clandestine detention centers.

"We have determined that the Lithuanian State Security Department has received requests from the CIA to establish detention facilities," said Arvydas Anusauskas, chairman of the parliament's national security committee.

The report said the State Security Department, the former Soviet republic's top security agency, provided two facilities to the CIA. One was a small cell set up in 2002 that could house only one suspect. The other was set up in 2004 and was big enough to hold eight suspects, the panel said.

It said there was no evidence that the State Security Department had informed the president, prime minister, or other political leaders of its cooperation with the CIA. The country's former leaders have denied any knowledge of the secret prisons.

Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania's president between 2004 and 2009, disagreed with the panel's findings.

"I am absolutely sure that there was no CIA prison in Lithuania, nobody proved this to me," Adamkus said.

Anusauskas said that aircraft involved in transporting prisoners had entered Lithuanian airspace and landed in Vilnius, the country's capital, on several occasions from 2002 to 2005. "Those airplanes were not checked by border police and customs, [and] persons traveling and cargo were never identified," Anusauskas said.

However, the panel found no evidence that any suspects were interrogated in Lithuania.

Though inconclusive, the probe has shaken Lithuania's leadership. President Dalia Grybauskaite has demanded that the former director of the State Security Department, Mecys Laurinkus, immediately leave his post as ambassador to Georgia.

Povilas Malakauskas resigned as the department's director last week, citing "personal reasons."

Grybauskaite had called for the investigation, saying Lithuania's reputation was at stake.

"Lithuania will be respected as a country only when we manage to keep both our people and outsiders from stomping on human rights and risking the country's security," she said yesterday.