German citizen wrongly held in Kabul until Rice release order

[JURIST] US government officials disclosed Friday that a German citizen originally detained as a terror suspect was released in May of 2004, on direct orders from then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice [official website] after he had spent five months in an Afghan prison due to an error. The officials said that when Khaled el-Masri was removed from a bus on the Serbian-Macedonian border in late 2003 he was believed to have been a member of Al Qaeda [Wikipedia profile] trained in Afghanistan. He was flown to Afghanistan on a CIA-chartered plane as part of a then-secret program for the rendition of foreign terror suspects abroad and imprisoned at a facilty in Kabul, where he claimed US interrogators beat, humiliated and injected him in an effort to gain information. At one point he went on a hunger strike for 34 days. Only afterwards did authorities realize that his was a case of mistaken identity:; his name was similar to a name on an international watch list of suspected terrorists. He nonetheless remained imprisoned in Afghanistan until word of his case reached Rice in May 2004, when she ordered him immediately freed. He was released on May 29 2004 and government officials have acknowledged that the detention was a serious mistake. The New York Times has more [free registration required]. From Germany, Die Zeit provides local coverage in German; Frankenpost has an extensive report [in German] on his imprisonment and release.



 

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