Hearing begins in CIA rendition case

German man of Lebanese descent Khaled el-Masri blames Macedonia for collaborating with CIA in his 2003 abduction.

    The European Court of Human Rights is hearing a case that involves the US Central Intelligence Agency's use of extraordinary rendition.

    The court in Strasbourg, France, heard on Wednesday a complaint filed by Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, who says he was abducted in Macedonia seven years ago after being mistaken for a "terrorist".

    El-Masri, 48, says he was abducted by CIA operatives under the so-called extraordinary rendition programme while on holiday in Skopje in 2003, then taken to a secret Afghan prison for brutal interrogation.

    He was initially suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda, but once the CIA realised it was a case of mistaken identity, he was blindfolded and taken to Frankfurt where he was released without charge.

    El-Masri says Macedonia violated the European Convention on Human Rights by torturing him, denying his rights to freedom and privacy, and refusing to adequately investigate his claims.

    At the rights court, el-Masri's lawyers said authorities in the Balkan country were to blame for their client's ordeal. They claim that Macedonia violated his freedom, treated him inhumanely and then failed to investigate the case.

    Macedonia rejects the claims and says the court should not weigh el-Masri's complaint because of issues surrounding the timing of its filing.

    Judges did not indicate when they would rule whether el-Masri's case could proceed.

    El-Masri has also launched cases in Germany, Macedonia and Spain, as well as the US, but this is the first time Europe’s highest court for human rights will hear all of his claims.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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