(Update on Algirdas Paleckis’ case, as of December 2021)
A. Paleckis (50) is a Lithuanian journalist and politician who was arrested on charges of “espionage” in 2018. He spent 17 months in a solitary confinement cell before any trial had started, and has been under house arrest since 2020. In July of this year, the district court sentenced him to 6 years in prison. A. Paleckis appealed the ruling, and he is still under house arrest.
The district court ignored the lack of evidence (see below) and just copy-pasted the final speech of the prosecutor into its verdict. Many Lithuanian courts are known for their dependency on the Government. So A. Paleckis risks spending another 6 years in jail as the ruling of the Appeal court approaches in January or February next year (2022).
The journalist is accused of “passing to Russia” information about Lithuanian judges who were involved in investigations into the events of 1991 in Vilnius, when Soviet troops clashed with civilians. However, no evidence was presented to the court. No documents, or files, or any other type of information that was allegedly “gathered” by A. Paleckis was presented to the court.
Moreover, no person has been identified as his alleged foreign handler – no link to foreign services was established. The prosecutor claims that A. Paleckis was in contact with an “unidentified” foreign agents… The whole accusation is based on the testimony of a witness who is a convicted pedophile (Deimantas Bertauskas). Incidentally, this person, who initially denied all charges of “espionage in company with A. Paleckis” then changed his testimony and pleaded guilty. Consequently, he was fully acquitted. (A parallel exists here with the trial of J. Assange, where a pedophile also gave testimony against J. Assange.)
The charges are also based on secret memos of Lithuanian secret services. Some of the court hearings were also held behind closed doors, despite the fact that prosecutor admitted that there are no state secrets in A. Paleckis’ case.
As a journalist and politician, A. Paleckis has been a long-time critic of the Government regarding social injustice, militarization and re-writing of history. His main “guilt” was to make his journalistic investigation into the events of 1991 in Vilnius. The authorities feel very uneasy about this topic, as they already fined him for a similar investigation in 2012.
During its last sitting (on the 16th of November 2021 in Vilnius) Lithuania’s Court of Appeal decided to approve A. Paleckis request and to ask the State Security Department to present to the court the protocols of secrete interrogations of the mentioned witness. Some of these protocols are still secret, which is a juridical nonsense, as they form the basis for the accusation against A. Paleckis.
The next court sitting is due on 12th of January 2022. If the court will not receive the mentioned secret protocols of secrete interrogations (which is very likely), then final statements will be pronounced, and the court will convene for a verdict sometime in late January or early February 2022. The verdict will come into force immediately.