A former Lithuanian lawmaker appeared close to fainting in a Chicago federal courtroom Thursday as a judge refused to halt her extradition to her homeland, where she faces charges stemming from her claims about the existence of a ring of influential pedophiles.
Lawyers for Neringa Venckiene, 47, said they would immediately appeal the decision to the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals. That likely means Venckiene won’t be forced on a plane back to Lithuania for at least several weeks.
Venckiene was a central figure in a scandal that gripped and divided Lithuanians before she fled to Chicago in 2013 as prosecutors prepared charges. Also a former judge, Venckiene is viewed by some Lithuanians as a heroine for exposing a seedy criminal network, but others see her as a manipulator who fabricated the pedophilia claims.
As it became clear the ruling wasn’t going her way Thursday in U.S. District Court, Venckiene — standing in orange jail garb — appeared near to collapsing and had to be helped to a seat. When the judge asked if she wanted a break, Venckiene said: “No, no.” But the judge recessed for five minutes anyway, as Venckiene drank water and dabbed her face with a tissue.