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Prosecutors attached to the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid are reportedly requesting that Judge Ismael Moreno issue an order for the arrest of thirteen CIA agents involved in an extraordinary rendition operation from 2004, the newspaper El País reports this afternoon, citing sources within the court.
The case relates to Khaled El-Masri, a greengrocer from Neu-Ulm, Germany, seized by the United States as a result of mistaken identity while he was on vacation in the former Yugoslavia. El-Masri was placed on a CIA-chartered jet that arrived in Macedonia from Palma de Majorca in January 2004, en route ultimately to Afghanistan. It appears that Majorca was used regularly as a refueling and temporary sheltering point for the CIA, with the knowledge of the prior conservative government. While held in the notorious CIA prison known as the Salt Pit, El-Masri was apparently tortured during extensive interrogations before intelligence officers realized that they had seized the wrong man. The Washington Post reported that CIA agents, fearing the consequences of releasing him, argued for his continued detention and in fact held him for at least several weeks after his release had been ordered. Condoleezza Rice, then national security advisor to President Bush, intervened and directed his release. El-Masri’s CIA abductors entered Spanish territory using forged British passports, according to the prosecutors. They are seeking James Fairing, Jason Franklin, Michael Grady, Lyle Edgar Lumsen III, Eric Matthew Fain, Charles Goldman Bryson, Kirk James Bird, Walter Richard Greensbore, Patricia O’Riley, Jane Payne, James O’Hale, John Richard Deckard and Héctor Lorenzo, according to information provided by the Spanish Guardia Civil. The case is also under investigation in Germany.
The Spanish prosecutors have been closely studying the prosecution in Italy of 23 American agents in connection with another extraordinary rendition, involving an Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar, who was seized off the streets of Milan and taken to Egypt, where he was tortured. The Italian proceedings occurred in absentia after the Americans fled to avoid arrest. The trial resulted in the conviction of 23 Americans, 21 of them intelligence operatives. A criminal proceeding relating to the kidnapping and torture of El-Masri is also underway in Germany.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead:
Honeybees can recognize individual human faces.
Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”