- European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg; Source: jodastephen (Flickr)
The case was filed by lawyers of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaeda leader who is currently being held at Guantánamo Bay. Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and subsequently transferred to secret prisons in various countries for interrogation. A US justice department memorandum shows that he was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in Thailand. In February 2005, he was brought to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius where he spent about one year before being moved to Afghanistan.
Lithuanian authorities might be forced by judgment of the ECtHR to reopen their investigation into the allegations of torture in the CIA’s secret detention facilities which were established with the help of Lithuania’s secret service SSD. The original probe was later abandoned due to a lack of evidence. Zubaydah’s lawyers claim that Lithuania is guilty of several breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights. They hope that the verdict will recognise Zubaydah “as a victim of torture, secret detention and enforced disappearance on Lithuanian soil”. Authorities at Guantánamo Bay refuse to pass Zubaydah’s statement to the Strasbourg court.
Lithuania is the third country in Europe after Poland and Macedonia that might be convicted by the ECtHR for their role in the extraordinary rendition programme.