Lithuanian court supported authorities in deal of pro-Chechen Web site closing

Lithuanian authorities did not violate the country's constitution when they shut down a pro-Chechen independence Web site last year, Lithuania's constitutional court ruled Monday.

The court ruled that the State Security Department acted lawfully when it ordered the pro-Chechen independence Web site Kavkaz-Center shut down last year after its operator posted a message purportedly from Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basayev claiming responsibility for the three-day siege of a Russian school in Beslan. More than 330 people died in the school seizure, most of them children, according to the AP.

It was impossible to confirm whether the letter on the Web site was genuine, but Basayev's previous claims of responsibility have appeared there.

The court ruled that security services did not violate the country's constitution or its public information laws by shutting the site down.

Lithuanian authorities closed the Web site last September, saying it violated government regulations restricting certain types of information, including condoning violent or terrorist acts, from being posted on Lithuanian-based Web sites.

Monday's decision clears the way for a lower court to rule in favor of the government's decision to close the site. The lower court is expected to reconvene later this year.

The Web site has since moved to a Sweden-based server and Sweden has said it will not shut down the site unless it does something illegal.

The Kavkaz-Center, founded in 1999, reports on events in Russia, Chechnya and Muslim countries and supports the positions of pro-independence rebels in Chechnya.

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