BERLIN – Arrest warrants have been issued for 13 people in connection with the alleged CIA-orchestrated kidnapping of a German citizen in the agency's extraordinary rendition program, a Munich prosecutor said Wednesday.
Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said the warrants were issued in the last few days. He did not say for whom the warrants were issued, but indicated a statement would be issued later Wednesday.
Extraordinary rendition is a practice in which the U.S. government sends foreign terror suspects to third countries for interrogation.
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Munich prosecutors have previously said that they had received from Spanish investigators the names of several U.S. secret agents believed to be involved in the kidnapping of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent.
Al-Masri says he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonia border and flown by the CIA to a detention center in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was abused. Al-Masri says he was released in Albania in May 2004 after the CIA discovered they had the wrong person.
In September, German authorities said they received a list of about 20 suspects from Spanish investigators believed to have been involved in the case.
At the time, German media reported that Spanish authorities were probing the identities of the people they suspect flew aboard a Boeing 737 from the island of Palma de Mallorca on Dec. 24, 2003, to pick up al-Masri after he had been detained by Macedonian authorities.
ARD public television reported that investigators worked from passport photocopies made by a hotel where the suspects stayed. The report gave what it said were the cover names of three men who were pilots and lived in North Carolina.
In October, Munich prosecutors said that based on the list, they were seeking to ban several CIA agents suspected of kidnapping al-Masri from entering German territory. They did not elaborate.
The al-Masri case has been a sore point in otherwise good German-U.S. relations.
The U.S. Justice Department has declined to provide Munich prosecutors assistance, citing ongoing legal proceedings in the United States.
Al-Masri has asked a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to reinstate a lawsuit he filed against the CIA. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in May, ruling that a trial could harm national security by revealing details about CIA activities.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials have declined to address the case. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the United States has acknowledged making a mistake with him.
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