May 17, 2006

US Fights Redress for CIA Kidnapping 'Mistake' of Khalid El-Masri:
El-Masri, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is seeking an apology and money damages from the CIA. The first – and perhaps the last – hearing on the case took place last week before a federal court in Alexandria, Va.

The lawsuit charges former CIA director George Tenet, other CIA officials, and four U.S.-based aviation corporations with violations of U.S. and universal human rights laws. It claims el-Masri was "victimized by the CIA's policy of 'extraordinary rendition.'"

The Lebanese-born el-Masri says he took a bus from Germany to Macedonia, where Macedonian agents confiscated his passport and detained him for 23 days, without access to anyone, including his wife.

He says he was then put in a diaper, a belt with chains to his wrists and ankles, earmuffs, eye pads, a blindfold, and a hood. He was put into a plane, his legs and arms spread-eagled and secured to the floor. He was drugged and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held in solitary confinement for five months before being dropped off in a remote rural section of Albania. He claims it was a CIA-leased aircraft that flew him to Afghanistan, and CIA agents who were responsible for his rendition to Afghanistan.

The aviation companies accused of transporting him during his detention are also protected by the "state secrets" privilege. A federal judge must decide whether to grant the government's motion to dismiss the case, but an ACLU spokesperson told IPS this could take weeks or months.

A parliamentary inquiry into el-Masri's kidnapping is also currently ongoing in Germany.

Speaking from Germany during a telephone news conference called last Friday by the ACLU, el-Masri said in response to a question from IPS that his objective is an explanation and an apology from the CIA.


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