By Andrius Sytas and Christian Lowe
VILNIUS/WARSAW (Reuters) - Lithuania has restarted a criminal investigation into allegations that state security officials helped the CIA operate a secret jail in the Baltic state, the prosecutor-general's office said on Thursday.
Prosecutors dropped the investigation four years ago, but decided to re-open it after the U.S. Senate last year published details of a secret CIA facility -- without giving its location -- which matched reports about a site in Lithuania, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said.
The spokeswoman said in an email sent to Reuters that a senior prosecutor, Irmantas Mikelionis, "decided on January 22 to cancel the January 14, 2011 decision of prosecutors to stop the investigation into possible abuse, and has restarted that investigation.”
Human rights activists and lawyers for men detained by the CIA say that Lithuania, a close U.S. ally, was part of a global network of secret sites used by the agency to hold and interrogate al Qaeda suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Lithuania's authorities have never acknowledged hosting a CIA jail. The United States government has never disclosed the location of the facilities, though it has said the sites existed and that in some cases detainees were tortured.
A parliamentary inquiry in Lithuania into allegations about the jail concluded that state security provided the CIA with a site that could have been used as a jail and that there were grounds for prosecutors to look into the case.
The criminal investigation was started in 2010, focusing on alleged abuse of authority by senior officials in the State Security Department.
A year later, when it was closed down, prosecutors said they had not found grounds to prosecute those officials.
The prosecution spokeswoman said on Thursday the re-started investigation had been merged with a separate but related probe, started last year, into allegations that a man who had been in U.S. detention was illegally moved across Lithuania's borders.
She said the combined investigation would be into alleged violations of two articles of the criminal code: the illegal transportation of a foreigner through Lithuania's borders, and abuse of power by a state employee causing significant harm.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)