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Probe into Guantanamo detention of German Turk focuses on foreign minister

[JURIST] Growing criticism [JURIST report] of the circumstances behind the Guantanamo detention of German-born Turk Murat Kurnaz [JURIST news archive] has focused on German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier [BBC profile] following German media reports over the weekend. Kurnaz, arrested by US officials in Pakistan shortly after September 11, was held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] from 2002 to 2006 and released last August [JURIST report] in response to repeated appeals to US authorities by current German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German]. State television network ARD [media website] and the Süddeutsche Zeitung [media website] newspaper alleged [SZ report, in German] Sunday that documents from 2005 revealed that Steinmeier's office secretly solicited additional intelligence from the United States to actually strengthen terrorism charges against Kurnaz. ARD also reported that Germany refused a 2002 offer from the US to release Kurnaz. Steinmeier, who was chief of staff to former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder until the end of Schroeder's term in November 2005, has not commented on the allegations but will address a German parliamentary committee [ARD report] investigating Kurnaz's detention. Reuters has more.

Kurnaz has alleged he suffered abuse and torture [Deutsche Welle report] as a detainee at Guantanamo Bay; last October Germany began a probe [JURIST report] into the charges. Various German party political leaders are calling for Schroeder to face the legal consequences of his alleged complicity in allowing Kurnaz to languish in the detention facility for so long. Schroeder's Social Democrat party rejects the allegations. Kurnaz's lawyer acknowledges that a Greens party official in the then-governing coalition responded to the release offer in 2001, but Kurnaz's Turkish citizenship made it difficult for the government to arrange for his release.

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