A German Muslim mistaken for a terrorist suspect by Macedonian border authorities in 2003, kidnapped by the CIA and sent to a prison in Afghanistan scored his first legal victory this week. The European Court of Human Rights vindicated Khaled el-Masri’s account of events and ruling Macedonia responsible for the torture and abuse he faced. The Guardian summarizes what happened to el-Masri:
He was held incommunicado and abused in Macedonian custody for 23 days, after which he was handcuffed, blindfolded, and driven to Skopje airport, where he was handed over to the CIA and severely beaten.
The CIA stripped, hooded, shackled, and sodomized el-Masri with a suppository – in CIA parlance, subjected him to "capture shock" – as Macedonian officials stood by. The CIA drugged him and flew him to Kabul to be locked up in a secret prison known as the "Salt Pit", where he was slammed into walls, kicked, beaten, and subjected to other forms of abuse. Held at the Salt Pit for four months, el-Masri was never charged, brought before a judge, or given access to his family or German government representatives.
The CIA ultimately realised that it had mistaken el-Masri for an al-Qaida suspect with a similar name. But it held on to him for weeks after that. It was not until 24 May 2004, that he was flown, blindfolded, earmuffed, and chained to his seat, to Albania, where he was dumped on the side of the road without explanation.
Today the U.S. government claims it no longer performs such “extraordinary renditions" (wink wink). It may not matter that you share a name with a terrorist anymore either; the CIA doesn’t need a name in order to kill. And there’s no Court of Human Rights victims of drone strikes in places like Pakistan and Yemen can exactly go to, if they manage to stay alive. Forward and all that.