A recently discussed cable released by WikiLeaks shows that American officials exerted pressure on Germany not to enforce arrest warrants against C.I.A. officers involved in the 2003 kidnapping of Khaled El-Masri.
Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, profiled in WITNESS’ video Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the “War on Terror” (which I helped produce) was suspected of being a “terrorist” by the United States, held in a secret US prison in Afghanistan and tortured before his captors acknowledged their mistake and let him go. The El-Masri case was detailed in cables sent from various United States Embassies in 2006 and 2007 and recently revealed on WikiLeaks. The cables noted that due to political pressure from Washington, Germany never pressed for the arrests and extradition of believed C.I.A. agents.
Mr. El-Masri was seized on Dec. 31, 2003, as he entered Macedonia. The Macedonians reported his arrest to the C.I.A., who believed he might be an Al-Qaeda terrorist and asked that he be detained. El-Masri was then handed over to a C.I.A. rendition team, drugged, shackled, sodomized, blindfolded, hooded, and flown to Afghanistan. After five months, he was dropped off on a road in Albania. No charges were brought against him. To date, no one has taken responsibility for what has happened to him.
The prosecutor’s office in Munich issued warrants for the arrest of the C.I.A. operatives, but the German government did not press for arrests or extraditions.
Outlawed was produced in 2006 when the Council of Europe issued a report on the topic of extraordinary rendition and torture related to America’s “War on Terror.” WITNESS created a coalition with a number of US human rights and social justice organizations such as Amnesty and the ACLU to distribute the video.
Please watch Mr. El-Masri himself tell his story in his own words: