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Europe rights court to review Macedonia role in CIA extraordinary rendition

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] announced Thursday that it will review the involvement [press release] of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] and torture of Khaled El-Masri [JURIST news archive] by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website]. On orders from the US, in 2003, Macedonian authorities seized [Guardian report] El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, while he was traveling in Macedonia and held him incommunicado for 23 days. He was then handed over to the CIA and transported to a secret detention facility in Afghanistan where he was held for four months in allegedly inhumane conditions, interrogated and abused. The case against the FYROM is the first in which a government has been called before an international tribunal to explain its involvement in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program. El-Masri's case was brought by the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy website] and was communicated to the Macedonian government by the ECHR on October 8. The FYROM has continued to deny its involvement in El-Masri's detention, and the US has never officially acknowledged his rendition.

In May, a lawyer from the Spanish National Court Office of the Prosecutor petitioned [JURIST report] judge Ismael Moreno to issue arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents who allegedly kidnapped El-Masri. The Office of the Prosecutor alleged that the court had jurisdiction to issue the warrants because the agents made a stop in Spanish territory using hidden identities without official Spanish government authorization to do so. In 2008, El-Masri petitioned [ACLU materials; JURIST report] the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] to open an investigation of human rights violations by the US, alleging that he was tortured by the CIA. In 2007, the US Supreme Court rejected [JURIST report] without comment El-Masri's petition for certiorari, ostensibly supporting the Bush administration's contention that allowing El-Masri's federal lawsuit to proceed would require the revelation of state secrets. Also in 2007, the German Justice Ministry said that it would not press a formal request [JURIST report] to extradite the 13 CIA agents suspected of participating in El-Masri's alleged rendition after the Bush administration informed them it would not comply with a such a request, despite a 2006 German investigation that concluded there was no evidence to disprove El-Masri's allegations.

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