Supreme Court Refuses Torture Case
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; 10:23 PM
WASHINGTON -- A German man who says he was abducted and tortured by the CIA as part of the anti-terrorism rendition program lost his final chance Tuesday to persuade U.S. courts to hear his claims.
The Supreme Court rejected without comment an appeal from Khaled el-Masri, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that state secrets would be revealed if courts allowed the case to proceed.
El-Masri, 44, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was mistakenly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers and was detained while attempting to enter Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003.
He claims that CIA agents stripped, beat, shackled, diapered, drugged and chained him to the floor of a plane for a flight to Afghanistan. He says he was held for four months in a CIA-run prison known as the "salt pit" in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
After the CIA determined it had the wrong man, el-Masri says, he was dumped on a hilltop in Albania and told to walk down a path without looking back.
The lawsuit against former CIA director George Tenet, unidentified CIA agents and others sought damages of at least $75,000.
"We are very disappointed," Manfred Gnijdic, el-Masri's attorney in Germany, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his office in Ulm.
"It will shatter all trust in the American justice system," Gnijdic said, charging that the United States expects every other nation to act responsibly, but refuses to take responsibility for its own actions.
"That is a disaster," Gnijdic said.
El-Masri's claims, which prompted strong international criticism of the rendition program, were backed by European investigations and U.S. news reports. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that U.S. officials acknowledged that el-Masri's detention was a mistake.
The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied el-Masri's account and, in urging the court not to hear the case, said that the facts central to el-Masri's claims "concern the highly classified methods and means of the program."
El-Masri's case centers on the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terrorism suspects are captured and taken to foreign countries for interrogation. Human rights activists have objected to the program.