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German arrest warrants for suspected CIA agents

German prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 13 people believed to have been working for the CIA.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 10:07 IST

German prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 13 people believed to have been working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in connection with the 2003 abduction of a German citizen suspected of being a terrorist.

The 13 suspects were crew and passengers on an aircraft that flew Khaled el-Masri from Macedonia to Afghanistan.

Germany's NDR television said on Wednesday that 11 men and two women were listed in the arrest warrant. Prosecutors suspect most of the names are CIA aliases. Among those listed are Kirk James Bird, James Ohale, James Fairing, Jane Payne and Patricia Riloy.

Prosecutors are attempting to determine the real names of the 13 people who are accused of false imprisonment and torture.

In Washington, US state department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US was awaiting more details about the arrest warrants.

"These warrants have been issued, I understand, by a local prosecutor, so it is not the typical bilateral-to-bilateral exchange that you might have with the federal government," he said. The CIA declined to comment on the case.

German officials say they expect little help from the US and the 13 are unlikely to be detained unless they return to a European Union country.

El-Masri's lawyer hailed the move.

"German authorities will not accept the criminal activities of CIA agents against a German citizen," Manfred Gnijdic said.

El-Masri was detained on the Macedonian-Serbian border in December 2003 and was then reportedly flown to Kabul in a plane that arrived from the Spanish airport at Palma de Mallorca.

A Muslim of Lebanese origin who lives in southern Germany, el-Masri says he was imprisoned by US agents in Macedonia and tortured in Afghanistan, then released. He said the Americans accused him of being a terrorist.

A parliamentary inquiry into the case has been told that then US ambassador to Germany, Daniel Coats, informed Berlin officials on May 31, 2004 that el-Masri had been mistakenly detained, then freed.