The Lithuanian judge, who made Crystal Lake her home in 2013 and now sits in a Chicago prison cell awaiting extradition, on Monday was granted a 30-day stay as she asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review the law surrounding her case.
Neringa Venckiene fled to the U.S. in 2013 after exposing an alleged pedophilia ring including the sexual assault of her then 4-year-old niece by high-ranking officials in her country.
She lived a quiet, unassuming life in Crystal Lake until 19 months ago, when she was taken into federal custody. She currently is housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
As lawyers and her family, which include her son, Karolis Venckus, 20, fight for her to be allowed an asylum hearing, a petition was filed last week to the higher court to “examine the extradition law,” her lawyers and family said.
Her lawyers argued the law in which she is being extradited has not been reviewed since the 1800s.
Her lawyers also have a request for a stay in the extradition process at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow time for the higher court to review her case. In July, that same court had denied a motion appealing a 2018 ruling also denying her a stay in extradition.
In that earlier motion, her lawyers wrote that if she is returned she could be subject to “particularly atrocious procedures or punishments.”
The Chicago-based appeals court wrote that it was its duty to comply with the extradition treaty. It is not its role “’to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to justify a conviction’ … That is the job of the requesting country,” they wrote.
This time, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied her motion again, but agreed to allow 30 days before they “certified the extradition,” giving the higher court time to review the extradition law, her attorney Barry Spevack explained Monday.
Venckiene, who obtained temporary resident status when she and her son first arrived in the U.S., was set for an asylum hearing in July.
But her lawyers say, for unknown reasons, that hearing was postponed until 2022.
In the meantime, the extradition process has begun.
Venckiene fears harsh punishment, even death, if she is returned. Many connected with the alleged pedophilia ring and her niece’s alleged sexual assault have been killed or died mysteriously.
Since she has been in the U.S., the Lithuanian government has trumped up charges against her including spying and speaking out against the government, the family has said.
Calls to the U.S. State Department and Department of Justice have not been returned.
While there are congressmen who have written bills in support of allowing Venckiene her asylum hearing and stopping the extradition process there has been no help from higher level officials, lawyers and the family have said.
As Venckus tries to live the normal life of a young man in the suburbs, attending McHenry County College, he continues to share his mother’s story on social media and visits her regularly.
“I’m OK, a little exhausted, I guess from everything,” he said Monday as he awaited a call from his mother.
More information about her case is available on the Facebook page Free Neringa and Freeneringa.com.