Alleged CIA rendition of German credible: prosecutors

23rd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 June 2006, BERLIN - Prosecutors told a parliamentary probe on Thursday that claims by a German citizen who says he was kidnapped by the CIA and held for five months in an Afghan jail were credible.

23 June 2006

BERLIN - Prosecutors told a parliamentary probe on Thursday that claims by a German citizen who says he was kidnapped by the CIA and held for five months in an Afghan jail were credible.

Khaled el-Masri, who is 42 and was born in Lebanon, says he was detained on December 31, 2003 on the Serbian-Macedonian border on suspicion of terrorist activities and only released after the CIA realized they had the wrong man.

State prosecutors told the probe they had initially been deeply sceptical over el-Masri's entire story including his claim to have gone to Macedonia to get over a marriage crisis.

But a medical analysis of hair samples from el-Masri had confirmed his testimony of having gone on a hunger strike in a desperate bid to win his freedom.

El-Masri told the parliamentary investigation he was convinced a that man who visited him in his Afghan prison, identified only as "Sam", had been a German agent.

"Sam was from his looks and his accent certainly a German," said el-Masri.

German prosecutors have so far not managed to identify Sam.

The parliamentary investigation is seeking to determine how much German officials knew about the el-Masri case and when they knew it. A key question is whether German intelligence played any role in el- Masri's detention.

Critics say Berlin should have been more assertive in seeking el- Masri's release and there are allegations that German officials were informed about the case far earlier than is claimed.

Germany's BND foreign intelligence service says one of its agents first heard that a German national had been detained in Skopje during the first half of January 2003.

The German government had earlier insisted its officials were only tipped off regarding the alleged abduction after el-Masri's release.

El-Masri is seeking damages from the CIA for his alleged ordeal. The US has neither confirmed that it held him nor that it ever admitted this to Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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