Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CIA Rendition Case Heads to Europe's Top Human Rights Judges

In a positive development for rendition accountability outside the U.S., the Open Society Justice Initiative's case on behalf of Khaled El-Masri against Macedonia for its complicity in his rendition will now be reviewed by the Grand Chamber of the European Court for Human Rights. According to a press release from the Open Society Foundation, El-Masri was seized by Macedonian agents on December 31, 2003, held incommunicado for 23 days and accused of being a member of Al-Qaida. The Macedonian agents then handed him over to U.S. CIA agents, who transported him to a prison in Kabul, where he was secretly detained and interrogated for fourth months before being flown back to Albania and left on the side of a road.

Both the U.S. and Macedonia have denied the facts of El-Masri's detention and rendition. According to U.S. cables released by Wikileaks, US diplomats put pressure on Germany not to seek the extradition of several Americans allegedly involved in the case, while also encouraging Macedonia to maintain its silence on what happened." The U.S. has declined to pursue the investigation of possible abuses linked to the Bush-era program of 'extraordinary rendition.' Nevertheless, inquiries into alleged abuse have been announced in the UK, Spain, and Poland.

While the Obama administration has stood firm on its decision not to investigate former Bush administration officials and their authorization of 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' the Justice Department is nearing the end of an investigation into the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody. During his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that "there were ....things that were done during the course of those interrogations that are antithetical to American values, that resulted in the deaths of certain people." Check out the full story from Politico.

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