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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 17:55 GMT
'Torture victim' seeks US justice
By Laurence Peter
BBC News

Khaled al-Masri (file image)
Mr Masri is seeking damages from the CIA
A Lebanese-born German, who accuses the CIA of having kidnapped and tortured him, says he is determined to get an apology from the US authorities.

Khaled al-Masri alleges that he was seized in Macedonia, flown to a secret jail in Afghanistan and tortured there.

"I'll pursue the case until the Americans admit what they did to me, give an explanation and make an apology," he told the BBC News website.

Munich prosecutors have ordered the arrest of 13 suspected CIA agents.

Mr Masri says he was abducted at the end of 2003 and detained for five months before being released in Albania after the Americans realised they had got the wrong man.

'Traumatised'

Mr Masri says his case is an example of the US policy of "extraordinary rendition" - a practice whereby the US government flies foreign terror suspects to third countries without judicial process for interrogation or detention.

"I'm suffering from stress - this experience has left me traumatised," he said.

I don't know how long the case will last, but I'll pursue it until the Americans admit what they did to me
Khaled al-Masri

His German lawyer Manfred Gnjidic told the BBC News website that his client was feeling "isolated and depressed".

"His life isn't back to normal, he was tortured, nobody cared about him until now. The trauma is so deep in him, he needs a lot of help, not just in psychotherapy. Nobody was able to get him a simple job."

Mr Gnjidic says that he has evidence of how his client was maltreated: "We have some witnesses, we worked a lot to get one of them, from Algeria."

The arrest warrants for the 13 agents accused of involvement were issued last month. The information for them came from Mr Masri's lawyers and a journalist and officials in Spain, where the flight carrying Mr Masri is thought to have originated.

Mr Gnjidic described the CIA agents as "contractors" from a base in North Carolina.

German arrest warrants are not valid in the US, but if the suspects were to travel to the European Union they could be arrested.

Milan case

Mr Masri says he was abducted on 31 December 2003 by US agents in Skopje, capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

He is seeking to sue the US government over his detention, but in May a judge dismissed a lawsuit he filed against the CIA, citing national security considerations.

"The most important thing is that the European and German authorities are saying directly to the CIA agents that this is an illegal way to act," Mr Gnjidic said.

"Now the German government should insist on getting the rehabilitation of Mr Masri by the American side."

Meanwhile in the Italian city of Milan, court hearings to decide whether to indict 25 alleged CIA agents and several Italians accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in 2003 are under way.

Osama Mustafa Hassan, or Abu Omar, says he was abducted from the streets of Milan and then tortured in Egypt.


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