German sues Macedonia in EU human rights court

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A German who claims the CIA illegally whisked him to a secret prison in Afghanistan appeared before Europe's human rights court Wednesday in what could be the final chapter of a case that has shed light on U.S. practices in the war on terror.

Khaled El-Masri, who is of Lebanese descent, says he was brutally interrogated at a secret CIA-run prison in Afghanistan for more than four months after being kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003, apparently mistaken for a terror suspect. He says he went on a hunger strike for 27 days and was eventually flown back to Europe and abandoned in a mountainous area in Albania.

Having failed with previous legal efforts in Germany, Macedonia and the United States, el-Masri has turned to the European Court of Human Rights as a last resort in the hope that it will declare that Macedonia breached his basic rights, said his lawyer.

"Mr. El-Masri has spent the last eight years seeking legal redress for the crimes that were committed against him," James Goldston told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "There is abundant evidence including data on CIA flights to and from (Macedonia's capital) Skopje."

Authorities in Macedonia have denied any involvement in el-Masri's alleged kidnapping and sought Wednesday to have the Strasbourg, France-based court dismiss the case. A lawyer representing the small southeast European nation argued that el-Masri was too slow in filing his initial criminal complaint in Macedonia.

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