SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia has formally apologized to a German citizen who was unlawfully seized, tortured, and handed over to United States authorities 14 years ago as part of the CIA's secret rendition program.
The Macedonian Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday that it had made a formal apology to 54-year-old Khaled El-Masri.
Macedonian security personnel detained El-Masri in December 2003 and secretly interrogated him for more than three weeks. He then was delivered to CIA agents, who took him to Afghanistan.
In a 2012 ruling , the European Court of Human Rights found Macedonia in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights in El-Masri's case and awarded compensation of 60,000 euros (currently $74,000.) The Macedonian government subsequently paid the damages.
El-Masri's lawyers told the court he was detained mistakenly as a suspected Al Qaeda member. They said he was beaten, tortured, and force-fed during four months in captivity before being flown back to Europe and left on a roadside in rural Albania.
Human rights lawyer James Goldston, who represented El-Masri in the European court case, said he welcomed the apology, but argued it did not go far enough.
Macedonia "has yet to open a formal criminal inquiry into what happened or to hold anyone to account," Goldston said in a statement to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of El-Masri against former CIA director George Tenet but the case was dismissed in 2006.
"U.S. government documents show that the CIA was aware of its mistake very shortly after it had wrongfully detained him, but he was still secretly held and abused for over four months," Golston said.