Friday, October 15, 2010
The lawsuit of Khaled El-Masri, an alleged victim of the U.S.-sponsored program of extraordinary rendition, has taken another step forward at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The lawsuit was intiated in September 2009 by the nongovernmental organization, Open Society Justice Initiative, on behalf of Mr. El-Masri, against the State of Macedonia for its participation in the program. Earlier this week, the ECHR communicated the lawsuit to the government of Macedonia and requested that Macedonia answer specific questions about its alleged role in the rendition program. According to the Open Society Justice Initiative, only ten percent of the cases filed with the ECHR make it to this stage. The Court also invited Germany to submit comments as Mr. El-Masri is a German citizen.
The lawsuit alleges that Macedonian security forces seized Mr. El-Masri at the request of the United States in December 2003 and held him incommunicado for 23 days. Mr. El-Masri was then handed over to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and flown to a detention center in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was further detained, interrogated, and abused. After several months, El-Masri was released and dumped on a roadside in Albania. Macedonia has denied that El-Masri was detained illegally on its territory or handed over to the CIA.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear El-Masri's case based on the state secrets doctrine. The United States has not publicly acknowledged El-Masri's rendition. Mr. El-Masri has never been charged with a crime or given any explanation for his treatment. Lawsuits and investigations are pending in several other states.