Steinmeier rejects government role in rendition

14th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 December 2005, BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday strongly rejected speculation the government played a role in or had advance knowledge of the alleged abduction of a German citizen by the CIA. Steinmeier, in a speech to parliament, vowed an investigation into claims by Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, that he was detained in Macedonia in December 2003 and then taken by CIA agents to Afghanistan. He says he was later flown back to Europe and relea

14 December 2005

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday strongly rejected speculation the government played a role in or had advance knowledge of the alleged abduction of a German citizen by the CIA.

Steinmeier, in a speech to parliament, vowed an investigation into claims by Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, that he was detained in Macedonia in December 2003 and then taken by CIA agents to Afghanistan. He says he was later flown back to Europe and released in Albania in May 2004.

"To be very clear about this: the German government, the Federal Intelligence Agency, the Federal Crime Bureau and the domestic security agency gave no assistance to the abduction of German citizens," said Steinmeier.

He added that former interior minister Otto Schily and former foreign minister Joschka Fischer only learned of the el-Masri allegations after the alleged abductee's reported release.

Steinmeier, who served as former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's intelligence services coordinator, has come under pressure over what he knew about el-Masri and when he knew it. Some opposition members of parliament have demanded he resign.

State prosecutors in Munich are currently investigating el-Masri's allegations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had admitted that Washington had blundered in detaining el-Masri.

"We are talking about one case where the U.S. has admitted it made a mistake," said Merkel after talks in Berlin with Rice.

U.S. officials swiftly denied that Rice had made any such statement.

The el-Masri case has fuelled anger in Germany in connection with allegations the CIA used European airports for its so-called "rendition policy" of shipping terrorists to prisons abroad where they could be tortured.

Steinmeier slammed suggestions that Germany might also seek to have suspects sent abroad to be tortured as "disgraceful" and "irresponsible".

DPA

Subject: German news

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