- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

BERLIN — German prosecutors said yesterday that they have issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents suspected of abducting a German citizen in an apparent anti-terrorist operation gone wrong.

It was Washington’s second European ally to seek the arrest of CIA agents on charges of spiriting away a terrorism suspect. Italian prosecutors want to question 25 agents and one other American in the purported kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric suspected of terrorism.

Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said the warrants were issued in the past few days against the 13 on suspicion of false imprisonment and serious bodily harm in connection with the abduction of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent.

Mr. el-Masri maintains he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonian border and flown by the CIA to a detention center in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he says he was abused.

None of the suspects was identified. But Mr. Schmidt-Sommerfeld later said in a statement that “the personal details contained in the arrest warrants are, according to our current knowledge, aliases of CIA agents.”

Germany’s NDR television released a list of the names of the 13 — 11 men and two women — it said its reporters had obtained.

At the State Department, spokesman Tom Casey said the United States would review the claims. “Certainly, we will take a look at that information once it is actually made available.”

But he declined further comment, referring to a lawsuit by Mr. el-Masri against the U.S. government.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials have declined to address the case. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Washington has acknowledged making a mistake with Mr. el-Masri.

Mr. el-Masri has said he was released in Albania in May 2004 after the CIA discovered they had the wrong person.

Mr. Schmidt-Sommerfeld said prosecutors in December 2005 received a list of people thought to be involved in the kidnapping. The list was compiled by a Spanish journalist from sources within the country’s Civil Guard, a paramilitary police unit.

With help from Spanish authorities, they were then able pursue an investigation against “concrete persons,” Mr. Schmidt-Sommerfeld said.

Investigators also received tips from others, including the Milan, Italy, prosecutor’s office and Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who led an inquiry into CIA renditions on behalf of the Council of Europe.

The CIA agents are suspected of having flown from the Spanish island of Palma de Mallorca to Macedonia in January 2004 aboard a Boeing 737 to pick up Mr. el-Masri, Munich prosecutor August Stern said.

Mr. el-Masri has asked a federal appeals court in Richmond to reinstate a lawsuit he filed against the CIA. A lower court dismissed the lawsuit in May, ruling that a trial could harm national security by revealing details about CIA activities.

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