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09VILNIUS92 2009-02-12 13:49:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
Cable title:  

Media Coverage of Lithuania Accepting Guantanamo Detainees

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R 121349Z FEB 09
					  UNCLAS VILNIUS 000092 


E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Media Coverage of Lithuania Accepting Guantanamo Detainees

1. All major Lithuanian media outlets carried accounts of the GOL's
interest in accepting some detainees from Guantanamo, with some
stories saying that talks with U.S. representatives have already

2. On February 11-12, both major newswires, ELTA and BNS, (mostly
factual, but used by different papers with varying political
perspectives) summarized the story. BNS carried Prime Minister
Andrius Kubilius's comments made in an interview on the station
'Ziniu Radijas' (news radio) on February 12: After noting that
Lithuania's partnership with its allies made Lithuanian security
stronger and for this partnership, the country needs to make
unpopular decisions, PM Kubilius said, "Lithuanian security is
strengthened by partnership with its allies, in this case the United
States...we are ready to negotiate openly and consistently for

3. Kubilius was also quoted on Lithuanian National Television and
Radio (respected, serious, balanced news coverage) after meeting
with the State Defense Council saying that consultations in relation
to the U.S. request will start, "There is a request from our allies.
Other EU states have received the same request. These requests are
considered on the EU level. We see a certain partnership

4. All these outlets covered Foreign Minister Usackas. ELTA: "The
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry intends to start consultations with
representatives of the USA on the possibility of accepting several
people detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Foreign
Minister Vygaudas Usackas said on Wednesday." BNS: "Foreign Minister
Vygaudas Usackas told the press, 'the Foreign Ministry was
instructed to start consultations with representatives of the U.S.
administration over technical, legal and security aspects concerning
the possibility of taking in a few of the Guantanamo detainees in
Lithuanian territory.' Lithuania could host no more than 10
detainees, who 'wouldn't pose a threat to Lithuanian security and
public order,' said Usackas...the Lithuanian President Valdas
Adamkus summoned the State Defense Council on Wednesday to the
President's office."

5. The daily newspaper "Lietuvos rytas" (very popular, left-wing
[anti-Kubilius], lacking depth in news analysis) on February 12
carried the BNS newswire account and quotes from PM Kubilius. When
asked why the detainees could not return to their home countries,
Kubilius replied, "Ask them when they come."

6. The daily "Respublika" (anti-American, anti-Semetic,
ultra-nationalistic, fourth most popular daily newspaper) published
a sensationalistic account on February 12 entitled, "Usackas Will
Greet Guantanamo Prisoners with Bread and Salt," referring to the
traditional way of greeting guests to a home. The article uses an
academic and a lawyer to question the legality of the government's
willingness to accept Gitmo detainees.

7. The internet news portal, DELFI (somewhat balanced, with a young
(up to 24 yrs.) audience), carried the story on February 11 and 12,
with today's account, "Lithuanians Don't Want Prisoners from
Guantanamo," more critical of accepting detainees, while the
previous day's story showed both sides of the question.

8. The dailies, "Vilniaus diena" and "Kauno diena" (both owned by
the same news group, formerly influential, neutral coverage)on
February 12 published the same article, which contained factual
information from the BNS and ELTA wire services, with the following
additions: Usackas did not give a timetable for negotiations,
meaning detainees could arrive by the end of 2009. Kubilius
confirmed that Lithuania, along with other EU members, received a
formal request from the U.S.

9. Conclusion: Accepting Gitmo detainees in Lithuania is a story
that is being carried by all major media outlets here, with
interpretations depending on the outlet. Given current media
climate, it would be in our interest to have a statement indicating
current official USG position.