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US House member introduces bill to free Lithuanian judge

Neringa Venckiene, an ex-Lithuanian judge and parliamentarian, is seeking political asylum in the United States. | Photo courtesy Juozas Valiušaitis via AP

A U.S. lawmaker wants Congress to intervene to stop the extradition of an ex-Lithuanian parliamentarian and judge on charges stemming from her claims that a ring of influential Lithuanian pedophiles victimized her 4-year-old niece.

A bill introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., would also free 47-year-old Neringa Venckiene from the Metropolitan Correctional Center until American officials rule on her request for political asylum.

Smith has helped write U.S. child-exploitation laws. The New Jersey Republican said in a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press that Venckiene “should be praised, not charged, for her courage to hold public officials accountable and protect her niece.”

Lithuanian charges include criminal stalking for allegedly tracking suspected pedophiles. Venckiene fled Lithuania in 2013 and worked as a suburban Chicago florist until her February arrest.

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