US rendition victim admits arson, assault at trial
A Lebanese-born German, Khaled el- Masri, whose capture by alleged CIA agents upset US-German relations, admitted arson and assault at the start of his trial.
10 December 2007
Memmingen, Germany (dpa) - A Lebanese-born German, Khaled el- Masri, whose capture by alleged CIA agents upset US-German relations, admitted arson and assault at the start of his trial on Monday.
Speaking through his lawyer, el-Masri claimed his actions were the belated result of his abduction to Afghanistan and mental distress suffered after his return to Germany.
El-Masri, 44, faces charges of setting fire to three jerry-cans of petrol and causing 300,000 euros (440,000 dollars) worth of damage to a cash-and-carry store in Neu-Ulm in Bavaria state in May after an argument about a purchase.
He is also charged with insulting staff and assaulting a supervisor who challenged him about his absenteeism at the firm where he was employed in January.
After his arrest in May he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
El-Masri's lawyer described how his client was picked up by CIA agents in Macedonia on December 31, 2003, apparently because his name was identical to that of a wanted terrorism suspect.
He was then taken to Afghanistan in a practice known as "extraordinary rendition" and questioned for six months before being flown back to Europe and dumped in a forest in Albania when the US realized they had the wrong man.
One his return to Germany he was not given any support and denied access to therapy, he said. He still felt persecuted and thought the intelligence services were following him.
"I was in a state of stress at the time and did not feel safe," his lawyer said in explanation of his client's violent behaviour.
Washington was upset when German prosecutors posted international arrest warrants for 13 US citizens believed to be agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency on suspicion of involvement in the abduction of el-Masri.
Subject: German news