ECHR hears Kahled El-Masri's rendition case


The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has begun hearing the case of Kahled El-Masri, a Lebanese-born German who was kidnapped, tortured and held for months in a CIA prison in Afghanistan in 2004.

Mr El-Masri, now 47, was arrested on holiday in Macedonia in 2003 and kept for weeks in a hotel in the capital, Skopje, where he was accused of having links with al-Qa'ida. He was handed over to the CIA, blindfolded and secretly flown to Afghanistan under the agency's so-called "extraordinary rendition" programme.

Held in a CIA prison, he claims he was interrogated and tortured for four months before his captors realised that they had mistaken him for an al-Qa'ida activist with a similar name.

Mr El-Masri said all he wants from the CIA and the German Justice Ministry is an "explanation and an apology."

Yesterday's hearing was the first time any court had opened his case. In the US his efforts to obtain a hearing were dismissed for fear that "state secrets" would be divulged.