ACLU Seeks Clarification from Government on Comments About Innocent Victim of "Extraordinary Rendition"

December 8, 2005 12:00 am

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Letter to Secretary Rice
Letter to DHS and Secretary Rice

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today sent letters to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff seeking confirmation that Khalid El-Masri, an innocent German citizen victimized by the CIA’s policy of “extraordinary rendition,” is eligible to enter the United States. El-Masri was denied entry into the U.S. at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta on Saturday, December 3, 2005 without explanation.

“Mr. El-Masri had a simple goal, to tell his story directly to the American people,” said Steven Watt, the ACLU’s senior human rights advisor on the case. “He was victimized by an American policy, and the American people deserve to hear directly from him the impact of their government’s actions.”

El-Masri was traveling to the U.S. to file a lawsuit with the ACLU against former CIA director George Tenet. The lawsuit charges that Tenet and other CIA officials violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when they authorized agents to kidnap El-Masri, and that his unlawful abduction and treatment was the direct result of an illegal CIA policy known as “extraordinary rendition.”

The letter was sent in the wake of numerous news reports that the United States, subsequent to the publicity generated by the filing of the lawsuit, assured the German government that El-Masri will be permitted to enter the U.S. in the future. It seeks “written assurances, that Mr. El-Masri will be allowed to enter the United States in the future without incident.”

The ACLU also sent a second letter to Secretary Rice seeking confirmation of reports that she “offer(ed) the German government an official apology on behalf of the United States government for the unlawful abduction and detention of Mr. El-Masri.”

“We are trying to get to the bottom of this,” said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU. “Was an official apology made, and if so would Secretary Rice be willing to make a similar apology directly to the victim?”

El-Masri has said that what he would like from the lawsuit is “an acknowledgement that the CIA is responsible for what happened to me, an explanation as to why this happened, and an apology.”
The lawsuit, El-Masri v. Tenet, was filed December 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

El-Masri is represented by Ann Beeson, Ben Wizner and Melissa Goodman of the ACLU National Legal Department, Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP, Rebecca Glenberg of the ACLU of Virginia, and Victor Glasberg of Victor M. Glasberg & Associates.

More information about the case is available online at:

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