European Court Schedules Landmark Ruling on CIA Rendition Case

NEW YORK—The European Court of Human Rights has announced that it will deliver its judgment on December 13 in El-Masri v. Macedonia, a landmark case addressing Macedonia's role in the applicant's abduction and rendition by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. 

The court will deliver its judgment at a public hearing in Strasbourg at 11.00hrs local time.

Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen, was seized by Macedonian agents at a border crossing on December 31, 2003, who then held him incommunicado for 23 days in the capital Skopje, wrongly accusing him of being a member of Al-Qaeda and subjecting him to interrogation sessions that included threatening him with a loaded gun.

He was  subsequently handed over to a team from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency at Skopje airport, where he was beaten, abused and drugged before being spread-eagled and chained to the floor of an aircraft and flown to Kabul. This process followed standardized practices used by the CIA to induce "capture shock" in detainees, which  constitute torture.

In Afghanistan, El-Masri was secretly detained and further interrogated for four months at the infamous detention center known as the Salt Pit, before being flown back to Europe and left on the side of a road in Albania.

Lawyers from the Open Society Justice Initiative, acting on behalf of El-Masri, have asked the European Court of Human Rights to order the government of Macedonia to pursue a full investigation into the case, and to pay €300,000 in damages for having colluded in his illegal seizure and abuse by members of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The application argues that Macedonia’s conduct has violated five articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: article 3, the right to freedom from torture or ill-treatment; article 5, the right to liberty; article 8, the right to private and family life; article 10, the right to information; and article13, the right to due process.

The Justice Initiative have prepared the following background materials on the case:

Timeline: The Case of Khaled El-Masri
Main events in El-Masri's nine-year search for justice.

Factsheet: Investigations into CIA Renditions
From Canada to Sweden, a summary of judicial investigations and official inquiries into the CIA's program of extraordinary rendition.

Factsheet: Khaled El-Masri and CIA 'Capture Shock'
How violence used in the extraordinary rendition of El-Masri followed standardized  procedures laid down by the CIA, aimed at softening up suspects ahead of interrogation.  

Text of original 2009 application to ECHR and related documents.