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Germany Orders Arrests In Alleged CIA Kidnap Case January 31, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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BERLIN (AP)–Arrest warrants have been issued for 13 suspected CIA agents in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a German citizen, a Munich prosecutor said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld told The Associated Press that the warrants were issued in the last few days against the 13 on suspicion of false imprisonment and causing seriously bodily harm.

Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, maintains he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonian border and flown by the CIA to a detention center in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was abused.

Al-Masri says he was released in Albania in May 2004 after the CIA discovered they had the wrong person.

None of the suspects were identified. However, Schmidt-Sommerfeldt said in a later statement that “the personal details contained in the arrest warrants are, according to our current knowledge, aliases of CIA agents.”

“Further investigation will, among other things, concentrate on trying to determine the clear identities of the suspects,” he added.

Germany’s NDR television released a list of the names of the 13 – 11 men and 2 women – it said its reporters had obtained. It said three had been contacted by its reporters but that all had refused comment.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials have declined to address the case. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the U.S. has acknowledged making a mistake with al-Masri.

Schmidt-Sommerfeld said prosecutors were led to the 13 suspects after receiving a list in Dec. 2005 of possible people involved in the kidnapping compiled by a Spanish journalist from sources within the country’s Civil Guard, a paramilitary police unit that answers to the Interior Ministry.

With help from Spanish authorities, they were then able pursue an investigation against “specific people,” Schmidt-Sommerfeld said.

Tips were also received from others, including the Milan prosecutor’s office and Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who led an inquiry into CIA renditions on behalf of the Council of Europe. Schmidt-Sommerfeld didn’t elaborate on what the tips were.

When Munich prosecutors said last year they were investigating a list of names, German media reported that Spanish authorities were probing the identities of the people they suspect flew aboard a Boeing 737 from the island of Palma de Mallorca on Dec. 24, 2003, to pick up al-Masri after he had been detained by Macedonian authorities.

ARD public television has reported that investigators worked from passport photocopies made by a hotel where the suspects stayed. The report last year gave what it said were the cover names of three men who were pilots and lived in the U.S. state of North Carolina.

In October, Munich prosecutors said that, based on the list, they were seeking to ban several CIA agents suspected of kidnapping al-Masri from entering German territory. They didn’t elaborate.

The al-Masri case has been a sore point in otherwise good German-U.S. relations.

The U.S. Justice Department has declined to provide Munich prosecutors assistance, citing ongoing legal proceedings in the United States.

Al-Masri has asked a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, to reinstate a lawsuit he filed against the CIA. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in May, ruling that a trial could harm national security by revealing details about CIA activities.

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