European court condemns CIA in landmark ruling
A European court issued a landmark ruling Thursday that condemned the CIA’s “extraordinary renditions” programs and bolstered those who say they were illegally kidnapped and tortured as part of an overzealous war on terrorism.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a German car salesman was an innocent victim of torture and abuse, in a long-awaited victory for a man who had failed for years to get courts in the U.S. and Europe to acknowledge what happened to him.
Khaled El-Masri says he was kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003, mistaken for a terrorism suspect, then held for four months and brutally interrogated at an Afghan prison known as the “Salt Pit” run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He says that once U.S. authorities realized he was not a threat, they illegally sent him to Albania and left him on a mountainside.
The European court, based in Strasbourg, France, ruled that El-Masri’s account was “established beyond reasonable doubt” and that Macedonia “had been responsible for his torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the U.S. authorities in the context of an extra-judicial rendition.”
It said the government of Macedonia violated El-Masri’s rights repeatedly and ordered it to pay (EURO)60,000 ($78,500) in damages. Macedonia’s Justice Ministry said it would enforce the court ruling and pay El-Masri the damages.
U.S. officials closed internal investigations into the El-Masri case two years ago, and the administration of President Barack Obama has distanced itself from some counterterrorism activities conducted under former President George W. Bush.
But several other legal cases are pending from Britain to Hong Kong involving people who say they were illegally detained in the CIA program. Its critics hope that Thursday’s ruling will lead to court victories for other rendition victims and prevent future abuses.
The case focused on Macedonia’s role in a single instance of wrongful capture. But it drew broader attention because of how sensitive the CIA extraordinary renditions were for Europe, at a time when the continent lived in fear of terrorist attacks but was divided over the Bush administration’s methods of rooting out terrorism.
Those methods involved abducting and interrogating suspects – without court sanction – in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A 2007 Council of Europe probe accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to run detention centers or carry out rendition flights between 2002 and 2005.
The CIA declined to comment on Thursday’s ruling.
The European Court of Human Rights found the CIA guilty of torturing a terror suspect for the first time ever. A German citizen was illegally detained, tortured and sodomized by a CIA “rendition team’ after being mistaken for an al-Qaeda member.
The Strasbourg-based court has unanimously ruled that German citizen Khalid el-Masri was tortured by a CIA ‘rendition team’.
The court also found the state of Macedonia guilty of secretly imprisoning, abusing and torturing Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese origin, and ordered €60,000 in compensation to be paid to the former detainee. The Macedonian government denied any involvement in the kidnapping.
James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, told the Guardian that the ruling of the Grand Chamber of ECtHR should become a wake-up call for the Obama administration and US courts. For the US Congress to continue avoiding serious scrutiny of CIA activities is going to be “simply unacceptable”, Goldston said.
Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, believes the ECtHR ruling is “a key milestone in the long struggle to secure accountability of public officials implicated in human rights violations committed by the Bush adminsitration CIA in its policy of secret detention, rendition and torture”.
Emmerson suggested that the US government must issue an apology for its “central role in a web of systematic crimes and human rights violations by the Bush-era CIA” and pay voluntary compensation to Khalid el-Masri. In turn, Germany should seek the US officials involved in this case to be brought to trial.
sodomizing is a part of acceptable torture under the CIA’s guidelines? ..how nice..the heads should all be charged and as soon as they step foot off of american soil they should be arrested and tried..