[JURIST] The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Friday upheld [opinion, PDF] the dismissal of a rendition-related lawsuit [complaint, PDF] by German citizen Khaled El-Masri [Wikipedia profile; JURIST news archive] against the CIA [official website], deciding that the case could not be heard in a US court because of the government's state secrets privilege [Sourcewatch backgrounder]. The lawsuit [ACLU materials], argued by ACLU [advocacy website] lawyers, charged former CIA director George Tenet [Sourcewatch profile] and CIA officials with violating international human rights law by their involvement in the alleged kidnapping and extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] of El-Masri to Afghanistan in 2003. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said [ACLU press release] the ruling turned the state secrets doctrine into "a shield that covers even the most blatant abuses of power.” AP has more.
El-Masri alleged that CIA agents kidnapped him while on vacation in Macedonia in 2003 and transferred him to Afghanistan, where he was held in a secret prison for five months and subjected to inhumane conditions and coercive interrogation. He was eventually released in Albania in 2004 without charge. In October 2006, el-Masri testified before a Spanish judge [JURIST report] as part of an investigation [JURIST report] into whether the CIA used Spanish airports to transport el-Masri to countries where they could legally torture him. In June 2006, a German investigator concluded that no evidence had surfaced to disprove el-Masri's story [JURIST report]. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier denied [JURIST report] in December 2006 that Germany had any knowledge of the alleged kidnapping.