German sues CIA over rendition, torture

Khaled Masri, a Lebanese-born German citizen, said today he will sue the Central Intelligence Agency over its practice of extraordinary rendition. Masri was abducted and flown to Afghanistan by mistake, where he says he was tortured.

The U.S. government privately admitted to the German government that it made a mistake in kidnapping Masri, but has not apologized publicly. Masri says he wants an apology as well as damages.

On December 31, 2003, Masri, who was living in Ulm, Germany, at the time, took a bus to Macedonia after having an argument with his wife. Border guards there found his name was similar to the name of someone on a terrorist watchlist and turned him over to the CIA station in Skopje. From there he was flown to Afghanistan and imprisoned in the now-defunct “salt pit” secret prison.

He remained there for five months before CIA admitted its mistake and returned him to Albania. Masri says he was tortured and starved during his time in Afghanistan, and a German prosecutor has gathered evidence which substantiates Masri’s claims.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on Masri’s behalf. It is the first lawsuit to directly challenge the process of extraordinary rendition.