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Norton-Taylor reports: "CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said."

The European court of human rights has ruled German citizen Khaled el-Masri was tortured by CIA agents. (photo: Christian Hartmann/AP)
The European court of human rights has ruled German citizen Khaled el-Masri was tortured by CIA agents. (photo: Christian Hartmann/AP)

CIA 'Tortured and Sodomised' Terror Suspect

By Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian UK

16 December 12


IA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday.

In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations.

Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA "rendition team" at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan.

It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.

"The grand chamber of the European court of human rights unanimously found that Mr el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

He described the judgment as "an authoritative condemnation of some of the most objectionable tactics employed in the post-9/11 war on terror". It should be a wake-up call for the Obama administration and US courts, he told the Guardian. For them to continue to avoid serious scrutiny of CIA activities was "simply unacceptable", he said.

Jamil Dakwar, of the American Civil Liberties Union, described the ruling as "a huge victory for justice and the rule of law".

The use of CIA interrogation methods widely denounced as torture during the Bush administration's "war on terror" also came under scrutiny in Congress on Thursday. The US Senate's select committee on intelligence was expected to vote on whether to approve a mammoth review it has undertaken into the controversial practices that included waterboarding, stress positions, forced nudity, beatings and sleep and sensory deprivation.

The report, that runs to almost 6,000 pages based on a three-year review of more than 6m pieces of information, is believed to conclude that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" adopted by the CIA during the Bush years did not produce any major breakthroughs in intelligence, contrary to previous claims. The committee, which is dominated by the Democrats, is likely to vote to approve the report, though opposition from the Republican members may prevent the report ever seeing the light of day.

The Strasbourg court said it found Masri's account of what happened to him "to be 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 US authorities in the context of an extra-judicial 'rendition'".

In January 2004, Macedonian police took him to a hotel in Skopje, where he was kept locked in a room for 23 days and questioned in English, despite his limited proficiency in that language, about his alleged ties with terrorist organisations, the court said in its judgment. His requests to contact the German embassy were refused. At one point, when he said he intended to leave, he was threatened with being shot.

"Masri's treatment at Skopje airport at the hands of the CIA rendition team – being severely beaten, sodomised, shackled and hooded, and subjected to total sensory deprivation – had been carried out in the presence of state officials of [Macedonia] and within its jurisdiction," the court ruled.

It added: "Its government was consequently responsible for those acts performed by foreign officials. It had failed to submit any arguments explaining or justifying the degree of force used or the necessity of the invasive and potentially debasing measures. Those measures had been used with premeditation, the aim being to cause Mr Masri severe pain or suffering in order to obtain information. In the court's view, such treatment had amounted to torture, in violation of Article 3 [of the European human rights convention]."

In Afghanistan, Masri was incarcerated for more than four months in a small, dirty, dark concrete cell in a brick factory near the capital, Kabul, where he was repeatedly interrogated and was beaten, kicked and threatened. His repeated requests to meet with a representative of the German government were ignored, said the court.

Masri was released in April 2004. He was taken, blindfolded and handcuffed, by plane to Albania and subsequently to Germany, after the CIA admited he was wrongly detained. The Macedonian government, which the court ordered must pay Masri €60,000 (£49,000) in compensation, has denied involvement in kidnapping.

UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, described the ruling as "a key milestone in the long struggle to secure accountability of public officials implicated in human rights violations committed by the Bush administration CIA in its policy of secret detention, rendition and torture".

He said 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 to pay voluntary compensation to Mr el-Masri".

Germany should ensure that the US officials involved in this case were now brought to trial. your social media marketing partner


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+32 # Vern Radul 2012-12-16 11:34
Th US Government is the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world today. And has been for decades.
+21 # truthrat 2012-12-16 12:20
I agree with your first sentence, but not your second. As I understand, prior to Bush and his so-called "war on terror," Israel was the only country that officially maintained torture as a government policy in treating prisoners. The question now is, how many high ranking governmental officials here (and in Israel) will be brought to justice? Wouldn't it be wonderful to see these slime behind bars? Wouldn't it be a tremendous boost to the human spirit?
+14 # Glen 2012-12-16 13:45
True, truthrat, it was not an official policy of the U.S. to torture and maim, but it was done. Both the military and CIA types participated, and it was denied in spite of 8 x 10 glossy photos.
+9 # Vern Radul 2012-12-16 14:57
The following is from a talk Stockwell gave after managing U.S. involvement in the Angolan Civil War as Chief of the Angola Task Force during its 1975 covert operations.

He resigned and wrote In Search of Enemies, a book which remains the only detailed, insider's account of a major CIA "covert action."

"Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the U.S. military machine to turn"

"3000 major operations, and 10,000 minor operations... bloody and gory beyond comprehension.. . we have organized death squads in countries around the world... operation in Afghanistan - biggest single operation in the history of the CIA secret wars... we produced the golden crescent - the largest source of heroin in the world... we count at least - minimum figure - SIX MILLION PEOPLE who've been killed [by CIA ops] in this long 40 year war that we've waged against the people of the third world"

-- Former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell ( video)
+3 # Mannstein 2012-12-17 20:43
Water boardng was used by the US military when it was fighting the Philippine insurgency in the 1800s.
+6 # Surflar 2012-12-16 11:58
We're next lookout!
+17 # Pancho 2012-12-16 12:07
The Bush administration stonewalled U.S. investigation of this case and others like it, and Eric Holder's Justice Department has been of little help as well. Al Masri's claims had been turned down by U.S. Courts.
+3 # JJS 2012-12-16 18:21
""Masri's treatment at Skopje airport at the hands of the CIA rendition team – being severely beaten, SODOMISED, shackled and hooded, and subjected to total sensory deprivation – had been carried out in the presence of state officials of [Macedonia] and within its jurisdiction," the court ruled." (my emphasis)

Please excuse my ignorance, but could someone clarify for me "sodomised"?

Did these torturers actually rape this man, anally penetrate him with objects such as sticks, force him into bestiality or perform oral, sexual acts. Irregardless, it is abhorrent how this person was treated but I am trying to understand the depths of the depravity of these guys. I also want to understand the legal terminology being used here.
+3 # RufRydr 2012-12-16 21:22
The U.S. collectively turned a blind eye towards any acts done in the name of national security after the 9/11 attacks. There were few voices in Congress brave enough to stand up and ask if administration actions precipitating our "for tv" wars showed the world how sadistic we could be.

For decades the U.S. has covertly carried out the same heinous crimes that are being brought to light through the "flattening" of the world we live in. Assassinations of national leaders in Africa and the Americas, Father Romero in central America, the installation of military juntas and banana republics in place of freely elected officials. All of these facts are widely known. The Iran-Contra scandal shedding light on one such covert operation.

America is not the bastion of righteousness that we're taught in school, it has a far more nefarious underbelly.
+3 # Vern Radul 2012-12-17 03:50

§ 2340. Definitions
§ 2340A. Torture
§ 2340B. Exclusive remedies

Summary of International and U.S. Law Prohibiting Torture

International and U.S. law prohibits torture and other ill-treatment of ANY person in custody in ALL circumstances.. ..It is irrelevant whether the detainee is determined to be a... so-called "security detainee" or "unlawful combatant." And the prohibition is in effect within the territory of the United States or any place anywhere U.S. authorities have control over a person.... the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment is absolute.
Torture is defined as an "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control." A person found guilty under the act can be incarcerated for up to 20 years or receive the death penalty if the torture results in the victim's death.
+1 # JJS 2012-12-17 18:38
Ruf and Ante, I appreciate the help, perspective, history and definitions. Torture is an act I believe the entire humane world would agree is anethema to humanity. Still, the term "sodomise" is so vague.
What exactly did this court find and label sodomy?
I'm not trying to focus on some sexual aspect of this only the truth of what the hell really happened so we can endeavour to exise this evil from our midst.
+3 # mdhome 2012-12-17 20:10
I can easily see the why of Bradley Mannings' release of "secret files", I do not think any sane person could stand by while the actions of psychotic perverts was being overlooked. Yeah, yeah, I am sure he did release other stuff, but maybe its the same as they said during Vietnam "kill em all, let god sort em out"
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-17 10:51
When will the USA emerge from primitive barbarism?
0 # JJS 2012-12-24 14:54
Quoting Kootenay Coyote:
When will the USA emerge from primitive barbarism?

When the aware citizens gather enough votes to change the make up of our electorate, I would hope.
+4 # jmac9 2012-12-17 12:43
Though Bush-Cheney are war criminals and their 8 year regime instituted torture, police state surveillance and endless imprisonment on American citizens...

It must be mentioned that the Obama administration - and the Republicans have done nothing - nothing to remove such police state activities.

FISA - warrantless wiretaps - are still in place.
Patriot Act fascism is still in place.
NDAA protocols - that allow indefinite detention of you - is still in place.

All your internet activity is monitored - secretly -
All your banking, credit card, emails, tweets, are open to this fascist terrorism without you ever being informed of it being done.

If your banker tells you that the Feds have opened your account - the banker gets arrested.- The banker broke "secrecy, national security."

An Arab food manufacturer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa had all their funds confiscated and bank accounts frozen. Their computers taken -
No charges were filed, no arrests, and no comment from the federal judge or prosecutor - they couldn't comment - as it would compromise "secrecy".

Under the fraud of the 'war on drugs' and now the fraud of the 'war on terror' the USA government has become - the terrorist
akin to Stalin- KGB, the E. German Stasi,
and the repressive Taliban.

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