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WikiLeaks cables

December 9, 2010

Leaked documents showed that Washington put intense pressure on Berlin not to arrest CIA agents involved in the 2003 abduction of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist.

Man being arrested
US said arrest warrants would harm the bilateral relationshipImage: AP

The latest documents released by WikiLeaks show the US pressured Germany to prevent the arrest of CIA agents involved in the abduction of a German citizen who alleges he was mistaken for a terrorist and tortured by US intelligence officials.

Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese origin, was captured in 2003 as he traveled to Macedonia on vacation, where he was mistaken for an al Qaeda operative and turned over to the CIA.

Khaled el-Masri
The US admitted el-Masri's abduction was a mistakeImage: AP

Masri said he was held and tortured in a secret US prison in Afghanistan before US agents realized their mistake and released him five months later.

Diplomat warned of damage to bilateral relations

US diplomat John Koenig, of the American embassy in Berlin, reportedly told the German government to "weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the US" should Berlin act on the arrest warrants for the 13 suspected agents of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to the New York Times late Wednesday.

Koenig stressed to German Deputy National Security Advisor Rolf Nikel the potential negative implications for bilateral relations between Germany and the US, in particular counter-terrorism cooperation, if steps were taken to "seek the arrest or extradition of US citizens/officials," the documents said.

Thirteen operatives, believed to be CIA, were eventually charged in indictments in Munich and Spain, as investigators concluded that the plane that transported Masri passed through Spanish territory.

Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner