FYROM on trial for human rights abuses in US post-9/11 rendition case

European court of human rights hears case of Khaled el-Masri, detained in Skopje before alleged torture in Afghanistan by CIA

Europe’s human rights court began hearing the first case arising from the US’s post-9/11 rendition programme on Wednesday, when the government of FYROM went on trial accused of multiple human rights abuses of a German citizen.

Khaled el-Masri, 48, a car salesman of Lebanese descent, was detained in FYROM in December 2003 and held for more than three weeks in Skopje, before being handed to CIA officers who flew him to Afghanistan, where he was allegedly tortured for the next five months.

The CIA appears to have realised it had made a mistake: it had been looking for another man of the same name. El-Masri was then flown from Afghanistan to Albania and abandoned by the side of a road in a mountainous area, with no means of returning home.

The grand chamber of the European court of human rights in Strasbourg began hearing a case brought by el-Masri’s lawyers which alleges a breach of his European Convention rights to liberty and freedom from torture.

Several other European states are expected to face proceedings before the European court as more details emerge of complicity in acts committed during the US’s post-9/11 counter-terrorism operations.

FYROM’s government has insisted that while its police did detain el-Masri, he was later permitted to leave the country for Kosovo. That claim is expected to be contradicted at court by a statement from a former FYROM’s government minister.

Read the rest of the article in the Guardian

More about the horrific human rights abuses against Khaled el-Masri here:

“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.”
“According to the ACLU lawsuit, El-Masri, a 43-year-old German citizen and father of six young children, was forcibly abducted while on vacation in Macedonia on December 31, 2003 by agents of the Macedonian government. These agents handed El-Masri over to the CIA who held him incommunicado, beat and drugged him, and rendered him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan, where he was subjected to inhumane conditions and coercive interrogation.  During his detention, El-Masri was refused contact with a lawyer or any member of his family.  After several months of confinement in squalid conditions, on May 28, 2004 he was flown from Afghanistan and abandoned on a hill in Albania with no explanation, never having been charged with a crime.  

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