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Secret Prison Scandal

DW staff / AFP (jen)October 24, 2006

Blood-smeared documents, prisoners apparently tortured -- according to a German weekly news magazine, German officials had early knowledge that terror suspects were allegedly mistreated at a US base in Bosnia.

Khalid al-Masri
Germany has been accused of colluding with US agents in detaining of two German citizensImage: AP

German authorities learned a few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that terror suspects were allegedly held and mistreated at a US base in Bosnia, the German news weekly stern reported.

During a visit to the US military base in Tuzla, in northeastern Bosnia, two officers from Germany's federal police (BKA) and a translator for the German foreign intelligence service (BND) discovered that suspects held there were beaten savagely, the magazine said in an early extract from its edition that is set to come out on Thursday.

Hamburg-based stern said the German investigators recorded what they saw in an intelligence document, which the magazine used as the basis for its report.

Comparison to Serbian war crimes

US soldiers standing in line
US soldiers arriving at the camp in question -- the US Eagle Base, near Tuzla -- in 2001Image: AP

It said a 70-year-old terror suspect needed 20 stitches to his scalp after he was repeatedly hit over the head with a rifle butt while being held at "Eagle Base," as the US camp is called.

The soldier who had beaten him was "visibly proud" of his conduct, the magazine quoted the report as saying.

According to the BND description reported in the magazine, "a majority" of the "documents seized by the US" were "extremely blood-smeared."

The secret documents added that one of the German police officials compared what he had witnessed at the US base at Tuzla in late 2001 to Serbian war crimes committed during the Bosnian war.

Accusations against Germany

Neither the BKA nor the BND would comment on the report on Tuesday.

The German government has been accused of colluding with US agents in the detention of two German citizens, one of Lebanese and one of Turkish origin.

Khalid al-Masri
German Khalid al-Masri is at the center of one of the cases of alleged abuseImage: AP

They were both held in Afghanistan. They have been released and have since their return home claimed that they were visited by German officials while in US detention.

The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has sternly criticized the so-called rendition program of terror suspects and has denied that there were secret US prisons in Germany, which is home to almost 100 US military facilities.

Up to now, the German government has given the public the impression that it only heard of US secret prisons in Europe through media reports.