German officials knew early of el-Masri abduction

1st June 2006, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN - Germany's external intelligence service, the BND, was aware of the detention of German citizen Khaled el-Masri some 16 months before Berlin was officially told of his mistaken arrest by CIA agents, sources in Berlin said on Thursday. The claim emerged as a parliamentary inquiry into the case and other alleged errors by the BND reconvened in Berlin. To date, Berlin has said it only learned of Lebanese-born el-Masri's alleged rendition to an Afghan jail after the 42-year-old had returned to Germany.

 

BERLIN - Germany's external intelligence service, the BND, was aware of the detention of German citizen Khaled el-Masri some 16 months before Berlin was officially told of his mistaken arrest by CIA agents, sources in Berlin said on Thursday.

The claim emerged as a parliamentary inquiry into the case and other alleged errors by the BND reconvened in Berlin.

To date, Berlin has said it only learned of Lebanese-born el-Masri's alleged rendition to an Afghan jail after the 42-year-old had returned to Germany. News reports say the US ambassador at the time, Daniel Coats, informed Berlin on May 31, 2005.

El-Masri, who is Muslim, claims he was seized by US agents and held for many months on suspicion of being a terrorist, and was released in May 2004 after the suspicions against him proved false.

The inquiry is being held behind closed doors, but sources said it was told that a middle-grade BND official heard in a restaurant chat in Skopje, Macedonia in the first half of January 2004 that el-Masri had been detained in the city, but did not pass the information on.

The BND responded Thursday that there had been an organizational mistake, since this information should have gone to its headquarters.

The el-Masri case has led to angry criticism in Germany of the United States and el-Masri is seeking damages from the CIA for his alleged ordeal.

DPA

Subject: German News

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