A former Lithuanian judge and MP who exposed an international network of elite pedophiles is being deported back to Lithuania, where she faces a lengthy prison sentence.
Neringa Venckiene fled Lithuania with her son and moved to the US in 2013 hoping to find safety after daring to expose the shocking crimes that the Lithuanian government was seeking to cover up.
However, after appealing to the U.S. government to protect her, U. S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall denied her plea and ordered her extradition on Thursday morning.
Chicagotribune.com reports: Kendall said Venckiene failed to show that Lithuanian authorities lacked probable cause to charge her, and that the evidence her attorneys presented did not show a violation of Venckiene’s civil rights.
Her attorneys are appealing the ruling and one of them said he is confident Venckiene, who has been in federal custody since surrendering in February, will remain in the Chicago area until the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case. Venckiene had resided in the far northwest suburbs, where she worked as a florist.
“The judge pretty much signed my mom’s death sentence,” her son, Karolis Venckus, said through sobs after the hearing. He added that “there’s no chance at all” that Venckiene will get a fair trial in Lithuania.
“I guarantee they will find her guilty and give her the strictest punishment,” said Venckus, 19.
He also said he believes that Lithuanian authorities will level additional charges against his mother.
At one point in the hearing, Venckiene fainted and Kendall ordered a 10-minute recess, despite Venckiene’s protests.
Venckiene fled Lithuania in 2013, reportedly fearing for her life. She helped expose what she claims was high-level corruption stemming from the alleged molestation of her 4-year-old niece in 2008.
Those claims set in motion events that included the suspicious deaths of four people in Lithuania. Over the same time, Venckiene, who had been a judge, rose to lead a political opposition movement in Lithuania and was elected to parliament there.
Lithuanian authorities allege that Venckiene physically fought with police who were attempting to remove the little girl from Venckiene’s custody. She also is charged in Lithuania with “humiliating” the court and failing to comply with a court order.
Venckiene and her attorneys contend the charges are little more than misdemeanors or fabricated.
She maintains that if she returns to Lithuania, authorities will punish her and may execute her.
Federal prosecutors say they are obeying the terms of a treaty with Lithuania that calls for the U.S. secretary of state to determine whether an extradition is valid. The State Department has approved Venckiene’s extradition.
But Venckiene’s attorneys argued that the State Department’s decision has no bearing on a judge’s authority and that Lithuanian prosecutors are “resurrecting an expired statute of limitations” for Venckiene exercising what in the United States would constitute a person’s First Amendment rights.
They also noted that she “was the subject of at least one assassination attempt.”
In an explanation that extended for an hour, Kendall rejected those arguments, citing case law and the wording of the treaty.
In addition, her attorney pointed to bills that U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren, a Republican from Illinois’ 14th District, and Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey’s 4th District, have introduced last month calling for Venckiene’s extradition to stop until her effort to gain political asylum in the U.S. is completed.
Kendall decided against waiting for those bills to make their way through Congress.
“The court will not blindly guess as to when or how Congress will act,” she said.
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