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Falsely Accused

DW staff (jp)
January 25, 2007

With Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier implicated in Berlin's alleged failure to accept an offer from the US in 2002 to release Murat Kurnaz from Guantanamo Bay, DW takes a look back at the controversial case.

Murat Kurnaz spent four years in GuantanamoImage: AP

October, 2001. Murat Kurnaz, a 19-year-old Turkish citizen born and raised in Bremen, flies from Frankfurt to Karachi, Pakistan. He was allegedly planning to attend a Koran school in Lahore but instead linked up with a group of peaceful Muslim missionaries.

November, 2001. After touring Pakistan's holy sites, Kurnaz is arrested by local police near Peshawar and handed over to US authorities.

January, 2002. German army and intelligence informs Berlin of Kurnaz's detainment in a US jail in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) supplies the FBI with a file on Kurnaz complied by Bremen police.

February, 2002. Kurnaz is flown from Kandahar to Guantanamo. According to his recent statements, he was repeatedly tortured while in custody.

May, 2002. Bremen-based human rights lawyer Bernhard Docke takes on Kurnaz's case.

September, 2002. German secret agents question Kurnaz in Guantanamo.

October, 2002. According to media reports, the German government and intelligence officials consider a US offer to release Kurnaz. The Interior Ministry allegedly plans to withdraw Kurnaz's German residence permit because he had been outside the country for more than six months.

November, 2002. According to an internal German intelligence report, the US shows willingness to release Kurnaz on lack of evidence, and as a symbol of goodwill towards Germany. The Germans allegedly refuse the offer.

April, 2004. Kurnaz is questioned by a German secret agent in Guantanamo for a second time.

August, 2004. Germany withdraws Kurnaz's residence permit. His mother files a petition challenging his detention under the US Constitution.

September, 2004. A military tribunal determines Kurnaz to be an "enemy combatant," whom the government could detain indefinitely. He is not allowed to see the evidence against him, nor is he permitted a lawyer to challenge such evidence.

October, 2004. After several failed attempts, US lawyer Baher Azmy is finally permitted to visit Kurnaz in Guantanamo and is granted access to the detainee's file. His visit marks the first time Kurnaz talks to a lawyer.

January, 2005. A US federal court rules Kurnaz's detention as illegal and a violation of the US Constitution and international law. The US government appeals.

October, 2005. The media reports that a German Foreign Ministry document reveals that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opposed allowing Kurnaz back into Germany while serving as chief of staff to then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and that security officials had expressed the hope that "US authorities will amass more evidence to back up (his) support of international terrorism." As Schröder's chief of staff, Steinmeier was responsible for coordinating the secret services' activities.

Murat Kurnaz Bremer Taliban aus Guantanamo in die Türkei abgeschoben
Kurnaz was only 19 when he was arrestedImage: dpa - Bildfunk

December, 2005. Berlin tells Kurnaz's German lawyer that the government had repeatedly lobbied US authorities on behalf of Kurnaz -- only for it to be confirmed that officials of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence agencies participated in the interrogation of Kurnaz at least once during his time in Guantanamo.

July, 2006. At a meeting in Stralsund, Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W. Bush discuss releasing Kurnaz.

August, 2006. After Merkel's personal intervention, Kurnaz is released and flown to a military base in Germany. He arrives in Bremen the following day.

November, 2006. Kurnaz makes his first public statement to the European Parliament's CIA special committee, accusing German soldiers of mistreatment and abuse while he was in custody in Kandahar in 2002.

December, 2006. Public prosecutors in Tübingen launch an investigation against two members of the Bundeswehr's KSK special forces.

January, 2007. Kurnaz repeats his accusations to a German parliamentary committee investigating his alleged mistreatment at the hands of German soldiers. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Steinmeier denies that Germany ever rejected a US offer to release Kurnaz. He is expected to testify before the committee in March.