Parliament questions Germany’s quiet role in CIA abduction

THE German government’s role in the abduction of a 41-year-old unemployed shoe salesman by the CIA has been queried by the European Parliament.

The special committee investigating whether EU governments quietly cooperated with illegal US kidnapping of terror suspects heard evidence from Khaled El Masri in Strasbourg.

The Lebanese-born father-of-four disappeared for five months in December 2003. A German citizen who lived in the town of Ulm outside Munich, he claimed he was tortured and held in an Afghani jail.

The German government last year said the US authorities admitted they had made a mistake in their rendition of Mr Masri. He is suing the CIA and the German authorities are also investigating his case.

Of major interest to the European Parliament was his claim that a German questioned him in jail in Kabul.

“I don’t know if the German authorities were aware but a German with no foreign accent at all travelled to Afghanistan and interrogated me several times,” he told the committee.

He knew the German as “Sam”. “I don’t know if Sam worked for the German authorities or for the US authorities but he was undoubtedly German. Sam said the Americans didn’t want to admit that they were involved ... He asked me whether I would go to the authorities or the press, and said, ‘you are intelligent enough, you know what I mean’. I took this as a warning,” he said.

The Socialist group in the parliament said his testimony raised serious issues about German involvement.

The Munich-based federal prosecutor, August Stern, who is leading Germany’s criminal investigation of Mr Masri’s kidnapping, recently said his investigators were trying to determine whether the German Embassy had been told about Mr Masri’s capture and then sent a German agent to the US prison in Kabul to talk with him.

Mr Masri said that he decided just before the new year in 2003 to escape from the one-room apartment he shared with his wife and four children and took a cheap bus to Macedonia.

At the border he was taken off the bus and questioned about al-Qaida links. He was taken to an hotel in Skopje where he was held for 23 days, interrogated, photographed naked and beaten. He was then taken to Kabul and tortured.

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