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Khaled el-Masri: Germany has ordered the arrest of 13 people believed to be CIA agents over the alleged kidnapping of el-Masri, in one of the best-known cases of American 'renditions' of terror suspects.

Murat Kurnaz, a Turk with German residency and pending German citizenship was recently released from Guantanamo after being held there for four years without charge. He is now suing the Pentagon.


Die Zeit, Germany

Prosecutors Target Reporters for Leaks on CIA Kidnappings


"As the Justice Ministry pursues CIA agents, it also chases journalists whose work actually supports their conclusions - for making public the actions of the secret services."


Commentary by Florian Klenk



Translated By Susanne Angelow


February 7, 2007


Germany - Die Ziet - Original Article (German)

Until recently, plaintiffs marveled at the courage of German prosecutors. They dared to issue arrest warrants against 16 CIA agents for abducting a German citizen in Afghanistan [Khaled El-Masri ], and torturing him. Since the U.S. would never hand over the kidnappers, this is above all a symbolic act … a public warning shot. It was supposed to demonstrate the unrestrained ruthless of the U.S. secret services and get them to not only cherish Trans-Atlantic friendship - but to conduct the anti-terror war within the confines of criminal law.


Now German justice is showing another, uglier face. Several star journalists are being targeted by Hamburg prosecutors because Stern Magazine (just like Die Zeit) published a federal government report marked "secret" about the cases of El-Masri, Kurnaz  and others. Prosecutors want to know who slipped the report to journalists.


Once again journalists are being abruptly turned into suspects to serve as fly catchers. This time, they are being used to identify so-called "whistleblowers" who uncover government wrongdoing. As the Justice Ministry pursues CIA agents, it also chases journalists whose work actually supports their conclusions - for making public the actions of the secret services.


This makes no sense because it damages the editorial secrecy law and the protection of informants, which are so essential to journalism. It was through the work of journalists who were investigating the authorities that the abductions of terror suspects became a public scandal. Next to the official investigations, it was above all reports published in the media that motivated the Bundestag to enlighten us on the role of [Foreign Minister] Steinmeier and Co [in allowing CIA renditions to occur on German soil].


The media has the right to publish even secret information, as long as it is justified by the harm done to the interests of a third party. And the public has a right to be informed about corruption and government abuses. That may not please secret service officials and politicians. But at least now one knows that some German ministers were silent when confronted with kidnappings of German citizens, such as [Interior Minister] Otto Schily  in regard to the El-Masri case; or that certain documents pertaining to Guantanamo disappeared at the instigation of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier - to the disadvantage of Bremen-resident Murat Kurnaz; or that the German secret services provided the coordinates for targets in Baghdad to the United States. These cases justify breaching the normal rules of secrecy.


Justice must immediately stop rummaging through the file cabinets of journalists. If they can't do so on their own, lawmakers must specifically prohibit the practice. The future of the confession of secrets hinges on this.