Saturday, January 08, 2005

Germany Looks Into a U.S. Link in Kidnapping and Torture Claim

More compelling evidence that the administration reeeaaaally thinks torture is a bad, bad thing:

"MUNICH - On the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2003, Khaled el-Masri was traveling on a tourist bus headed for the Macedonian capital, Skopje, where he was hoping to escape the 'holiday pressures' of home life during a weeklong vacation.

When the bus reached the Serbia-Macedonia border, Mr. Masri said, he was asked the usual questions: Where are you going? How long will you be staying? Mr. Masri, a German citizen, did not think much of it, until he realized that the border guards had confiscated his passport.
...
It was the first day of what Mr. Masri said would become five months in captivity. In an interview, he said that after being kidnapped by the Macedonian authorities at the border, he was turned over to officials he believed were from the United States. He said they flew him to a prison in Afghanistan, where he said he was shackled, beaten repeatedly, photographed nude, injected with drugs and questioned by interrogators about what they insisted were his ties to Al Qaeda.

He was released without ever being charged with a crime. The German police and prosecutors have been investigating Mr. Masri's allegations since he reported the matter to them last June, two weeks after his return to Germany. Martin Hofmann, the lead German prosecutor in Munich, who is in charge of the case, and another official, a senior organized crime investigator in southern Germany, say they believe Mr. Masri's story. They said investigators interviewed him for 17 hours over two days, that his story was very detailed and that he recounted it consistently. In addition, the officials said they have verified specific elements of the case, including that Mr. Masri was forced off the bus at the border.
...
Mr. Masri's lawyer, Manfred R. Gnjidic, said he suspected that his client was swept into the C.I.A.'s policy of 'renditions' - handing custody of a prisoner from United States control to another country for the purposes of interrogation - because he shares the same name, with a slightly different spelling, as a man wanted in the Sept. 11 attacks. The policy has come under increasing criticism as other cases have come to light recently.

...
In a series of interviews, neither the C.I.A. nor the F.B.I. would deny or confirm Mr. Masri's allegations. A C.I.A. spokeswoman said the agency would not comment at all. Senior F.B.I. officials in Washington acknowledged that they received a request for help from the Germans last October, and said they were assisting in the investigation. The officials disputed that they had not worked aggressively on the case.
...
Mr. Masri, who had not gone public with his case, agreed to give an interview last month after being approached by The New York Times. During the interview, he spoke without notes, and in great detail, about his case. He said he was able to recount his time in captivity because he wrote down his experiences right after he was released.

The timeline was corroborated by documents, including a bus ticket and a stamp on his passport in Albania on May 29, the date he said he was released. He returned to Germany on June 3. His account also matched details in a report about his case written by Amnesty International, whose officials interviewed Mr. Masri on June 21.
...
His lawyer, Mr. Gnjidic, said he thought that his client had been confused with the Sept. 11 suspect because that man, Khalid al-Masri, is believed by American authorities to have had contact with Mr. bin al-Shibh and Mr. Atta and to have been partly responsible for directing them to a Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. It was there that the two men met Osama bin Laden, who enlisted them for the Sept. 11 mission."


Hard to believe that this case is ultimately going anywhere; as German officials noted in the article, you can't arrest a country for kidnapping, and those directly involved are untouchably buried in the system. Just chalk it up as yet another effort by the Boy King and his minions to win friends abroad and make the world safe for democracy.


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