German Seized by CIA Says He Feared For His Life | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 21.01.2006
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


German Seized by CIA Says He Feared For His Life

As Khaled el Masri's lawyers continue to probe his claims of wrongful abduction and detention at the hands of the CIA, the Lebanese-born German spoke out about his ordeal.


Khaled el Masri says he was humiliated and ill-treated

Khaled el Masri said he was en-route to a holiday destination when he was arrested in late 2003 in Macedonia, a country where national legislation dictates arrestees have the right to see a judge within 24 hours of their detention. El Masri said that law did not apply to him, and insists that he still has no idea as to the reasons behind his arrest.

"I am still hoping for some kind of clarification," he told Deutsche Welle. "I want to know why they did what they did to me, and that is why we brought the whole affair into the public domain. No charges were brought against me in either Afghanistan or Skopje."

Skopje,Kamen Most.

Skopje, where el Masri says he was first detained

El Masri said he was held in a hotel in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, and -- after 23 days of imprisonment and interrogation there -- was unknowingly taken to Afghanistan.

"At Skopje airport I was told to go into a room where I would receive a medical examination," he said. "Once inside, they blindfolded me and put me in handcuffs. I was hit all over and then my clothes were torn from my body by sharp objects until I was standing there naked. They humiliated me. Then they tied me up, like in the pictures we know from Guantanamo. I was taken to a plane, thrown on the floor and given two shots of sedatives."

"I feared for my life"

He goes on to explain that he didn't even know where he was until a fellow prisoner told him. It was Afghanistan. During an interrogation, el Masri deduced from his disguised interrogator's perfect command of English, that he must be a CIA agent. The German detainee was told he was in a place where there were no laws, and that nobody knew of his whereabouts.

Multikulturzentrum in Neu-Ulm Khaled el Masri

Multi-cultural centre in Neu-Ulm

"The whole time I was in Afghanistan I feared for my life," he said. "It was terrible for me."

El Masri said he believes it was his connections to Islamic centers in his hometown of Neu-Ulm and neighboring Ulm which led to his abduction. Both places are considered centers of Islamic activity and have been on the radar of the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution for some time.

Mistaken identity?

He said his interrogator had access to detailed information about his life, which his lawyer has since confirmed could only come from the German intelligence services. Were that the case, it would invalidate the theory that el Masri had been mistaken for an al Qaeda member of the same name. The German government has refused to comment on a possible cooperation between its own intelligence authorities and the CIA.

Otto Schily

Former Interior Minister, Otto Schily

"In Afghanistan, I was asked what I would do on my release, whether I would go to the German authorities or the German press," el Masri said. "I was told I was clever enough to know better. I knew then that they were threatening me, so when I got back, I recorded everything on video in case anything should happen to me. Then I called a lawyer and the press."

The case only made it into the public sphere last year, by which time el Masri had been released. The then governing coalition of Social Democrats and Greens already knew of the incident. Former US ambassador Dan Coats had informed then Interior Minister Otto Schily about the abduction, but it was El Masri's lawyer who reported it to former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his successor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was then the chancellery's chief of staff.

Exactly what the government did with that information in order to clarify the case remains a mystery. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the case will be take up by a parliamentary committee.

DW recommends