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Report: Berlin Protected a German Citizen From CIA

DW staff (ncy)December 21, 2005

German police in 2003 shielded a German national suspected of terrorism by the United States from questioning by the CIA, according to a newspaper report to be published on Thursday.

Germany's police confirmed the operation took placeImage: AP

Die Zeit weekly said German police accompanied Reda Seyam, who is of Egyptian origin, back to Germany from Indonesia after he was interrogated by the US Central Intelligence Agency in Jakarta, to prevent further questioning by the US intelligence services.

"Berlin asked us to take special care to avoid that Seyam is not apprehended in the transit zone of Singapore airport," a German police source is quoted as telling Die Zeit, according to an advance extract of the report published on Tuesday. "It does not matter to the Americans that somebody is German or whether sovereignty is violated. They are like rabid dogs," the source added.

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) denied the weekly's description of the operation.

"This measure did take place, but not for the purpose of protecting Seyam from a third party -- rather to ensure the realization of further investigations," the BKA said Tuesday.

Seyam knew el-Masri

Das Bundeskriminalamt in Wiesbaden
BKA headquarters in WiesbadenImage: dpa

Seyam was arrested by the Indonesian police in September 2002 and subsequently questioned by the CIA. According to the report, the German government, then headed by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, was informed of the case. After 10 months in prison, Seyam was then reportedly handed over to the German police who accompanied him back to the western German city of Frankfurt, despite indications by the CIA that they wished to question him again. Germany's attorney general is reportedly investigating Seyam for suspected links to terrorism.

According to the Associated Press, Seyman was an acquaintance of Khaled el-Masri, the German-Lebanese man who is suing the United States for kidnapping him on Dec. 31, 2003 in Macedonia. El-Masri says the CIA took him to Afghanistan a month later for questioning about his supposed links to Islamists and freed at the end of May 2004 in Albania after the US authorities realized they had confused him with someone else.