The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favor of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was an innocent victim of CIA rendition. The court ordered Macedonia to pay el-Masri $78,000 for arresting him and turning him over to the CIA.
El--Masri was originally arrested in Macedonia in 2003. He was held in isolation in a hotel in Skopje the Macedonian capital. On December 31, 2003, el-Masri was detained by Macedonian border officials. He was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri, a supposed mentor to a Hamburg Al-Qaeda cell. Officials also thought his German passport was a forgery.
On his release, on January 23, 2004 , el-Masri was seized by what has been called a "black snatch team" of American security officials. El-Masri alleges that he was beaten, stripped naked, drugged, dressed in a diaper and jumpsuit and flown first to Baghdad and then to a covert interrogation center in Afghanistan. El Masri spent five months in secret CIA jails because of his supposed links to terrorist groups. He was eventually flown to Albania and dumped by the side of a road, with no money, no apologies, no nothing, after the CIA finally made a few inquiries that included the discovery his passport was genuine. They had an innocent person. The CIA does not believe in compensation.
The CIA analyst who mistakenly recommended El-Masri's detention and rendition, has been identified as Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. She has since been promoted. She is now chief of the agency's Global Jihad unit, the unit in charge of hunting al-Qaeda operatives. She is part of the president's inner circle and is Director for Counter-terrorism. In the CIA no mistake goes unrewarded.
The European Court, based in Strasbourg, France, decided that El-Masri's account of what happened to him was "established beyond reasonable doubt" and that Macedonia "had been responsible for his torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the US authorities in the context of an extra-judicial rendition". Macedonia denies that they had any involvement in the kidnapping of el-Masri by the Americans.
An investigation by the Council of Europe found that 14 European governments had cooperated with the U.S. rendition program by permitting detention centers, or the carrying out of rendition flights during the period of 2002 to 2006. Amnesty International hailed the ruling as historic because:"for the first time it holds a European state accountable for its involvement in the secret US-led programmes and is a milestone in the fight against impunity. Macedonia is not alone."
El-Masri was unable to achieve any headway in attempts to achieve justice in the U.S. As with virtually all cases of this nature, U.S. courts side with the government which always argues that the cases cannot be pursued because it would involve classified material and would be against the security interests of the U.S.
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