The German government is being sued by a group of civil-rights attorneys, who demand that it pursues the extradition of 13 CIA agents sought in the alleged kidnapping of a German citizen.
Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck said that the case filed with a Berlin administrative court seeks to demand accountability of the agents involved with Khaled al-Masri (photo).
A court spokesman confirmed the petition was filed, but did not say when it might be heard.
Mr Al-Masri, of Lebanese descent, says he was interrogated and abused in a detention center in Afghanistan, after being abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonian border.
He added that he was released in Albania in May 2004, and that his captors told him he was seized in a case of mistaken identity.
Condoleezza Rice (photo, from topnews.in), the US secretary of state, and other US officials have declined to address the case. But the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the US had acknowledged making a mistake with Mr al-Masri.
As no government has recognised his ordeal four years after the incident, Khaled al-Masri is pursuing the petition because.
Serious bodily harm
“I just want the German government to acknowledge what happened to me”, he said.
In Munich, prosecutors issued warrants for the arrest of 13 suspected CIA agents at the end of January 2007. They accused the unidentified suspects of wrongfully imprisoning Mr al-Masri and causing him serious bodily harm.
“The German justice ministry then spoke to the US justice department about the Munich warrants and was told that extraditing the agents would jeopardize ‘American national interests’“, said Eva Schmierer, a ministry spokeswoman.
On Monday she said that after receiving that answer, the ministry decided not to pursue the warrants further.
The aim of the new case of to force the government to reconsider extradition for the agents.
Though it confirmed receiving the petition, the ministry said it had no immediate comment.
Human-rights campaigners have taken on Mr al-Masri’s story to press the US to stop flying terrorism suspects to countries other than the US, where they could face abuse, in a practice known as “extraordinary rendition”.
Seeking documents related to Mr al-Masri’s case, civil-rights attorneys from Albania and Macedonia said that, in other legal action in the case, they have filed freedom of information requests in both countries.
They are also pursuing a criminal case against CIA officers involved in Mr al-Masri’s alleged abduction in Macedonia.
The process there and in Macedonia could culminate in a case before the European court of human rights, said Darian Pavli, an attorney who filed the information request in Albania and joined the German attorneys at a news conference on Monday.
In the same time, legal action have been taken on Mr al-Masri’s behalf in the US, by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The ACLU filed a new petition in April through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a body that seeks to establish international laws, said Ben Wizner, an ACLU attorney who filed an unsuccessful complaint in 2005 against former CIA director George Tenet and the CIA officers involved in the case.
In the new petition, the US are accused of failing to respect Mr al-Masri’s basic human rights, said Mr Wizner.
“These are all little pin pricks”, Wizner said. “It’s all about trying to narrow the space in which the CIA can engage in systematic human rights violations.”