Blog of Rights

European Court to Review Macedonia's Role in El-Masri's Rendition

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:50pm

Last Friday, in yet another example of other countries pursuing justice for the victims of the U.S. rendition and torture program, the European Court of Human Rights announced that it will review Macedonia's role in the CIA's kidnapping and subsequent torture of German citizen Khaled el-Masri. The case was brought before the court by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

El-Masri was kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003 at the behest of the U.S. government and transferred to the "Salt Pit," a secret prison in Afghanistan, where he was held for four months and tortured. He was then dumped, "like a piece of luggage," on a hillside in Albania. He was never charged with a crime, and despite ample evidence, the U.S. has never admitted its involvement with el-Masri's abduction and torture.

The ACLU represented el-Masri in a lawsuit brought in 2005 charging then-CIA director George Tenet violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when he authorized agents to abduct and torture el-Masri. The "merits" of the case—whether Tenet did indeed break the law by authorizing el-Masri's rendition—were never heard in a court of law. Instead, the case was dismissed on state secrets grounds in the district and appeals courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

So while el-Masri's case will never see the light of day in a U.S. court, Germany, Spain and Poland are investigating his rendition. Poland, Lithuania, and the U.K. are also engaged in investigations about extraordinary rendition more broadly.

But back here in the U.S., not so much.

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