ON NEW YEAR’S EVE in 2003, I was seized at the border of Serbia and Macedonia by Macedonian police who mistakenly believed that I was traveling on a false German passport. I was detained incommunicado for more than three weeks. Then I was handed over to the American Central Intelligence Agency and was stripped, severely beaten, shackled, dressed in a diaper, injected with drugs, chained to the floor of a plane and flown to Afghanistan, where I was imprisoned in a foul dungeon for more than four months.
Long after the American government realized that I was an entirely innocent man, I was blindfolded, put back on a plane, flown to Europe and left on a hilltop in Albania — without any explanation or apology for the nightmare that I had endured.
My story is well known. It has been described in literally hundreds of newspaper articles and television news programs — many of them relying on sources within the U.S. government. It has been the subject of numerous investigations and reports by intergovernmental bodies, including the European Parliament. Most recently, prosecutors in my own country of Germany are pursuing indictments against 13 CIA agents and contractors for their role in my kidnapping, abuse and detention. Although I never could have imagined it, and certainly never wished it, I have become the public face of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program.”
According to a report from the WashingtonExaminer.com, Clara Gutteridge, an international activist against the United States’ so-called extraordinary rendition program — abducting and interrogating terror suspects without court sanction — testified at the Skopje court on the first day of the proceedings.
But judge Sofija Milenkovska instructed her to limit her testimony to evidence and events that occurred in Macedonia — and not details of el-Masri’s alleged flight itinerary to Afghanistan.
“It seems that the strategy of the Macedonian government in this case is not to address the evidence that have been presented to them, but simply continue to deny, deny and deny,” Gutteridge told The Associated Press after the hearing. “The fact that they are not responding to the evidence … just shows yet again that there are kind of structural and institutional reasons that make extremely difficult to get anywhere near the truth in this case.”
NBC News had reported a few years ago that Masri was snatched because he shared the same name as an al Qaeda suspect. It said even when investigators realized the error, he was held another six weeks in an Afghan jail dubbed the Salt Pit before being freed.
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