CIA 'Queen of Torture' May Face Prosecution in Germany
22:03 19.10.2015(updated 22:17 19.10.2015)
On Monday, a human rights group in Germany filed a complaint in federal court against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, a CIA agent known as the "Queen of Torture," containing proof of her involvement in the kidnapping and torture of German citizen Khaled El Masri.
The International Crimes and Accountability Program at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights is requesting that charges be brought against Bikowsky in Germany for the 2003 abduction of El Masri when he was mistaken for a suspected al Qaeda militant involved in the 9/11 terror plot. He was held and tortured for 23 days despite Bikowsky being warned that they had the wrong person.
El Masri was then flown to Afghanistan where he faced even more violent questioning, for four months, before being returned to Germany.
"There are already arrest warrants in Germany for the air crew who flew El Masri to Afghanistan so we're simply following the chain of command," Andreas Schüller, head of the ECCHR told Al Jazeera.
The complaint cites the US senate's torture report as well as findings from investigative journalists who have uncovered Bikowsky's direct involvement in the torture of CIA captives.
"She dropped the ball when the CIA. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the CIA on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked," The New Yorker reported.
While the complaint alone will not lead to Bikowsky's arrest, the ECCHR will be able to contact foreign customs agencies to request her detention, making it more difficult for the "Queen of Torture" to serve outside of the United States.
If federal prosecutors opt not to prosecute Bikowsky, the group intends to file a complaint with Munich's state prosecutor who already has open arrest warrants for 13 CIA officials involved in the torture of El Masri.
In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights made it easier for victims of torture to receive justice by siding with El Masri's complaint against Macedonia's interior ministry.
"Historically a cloak of legal immunity has been cast around intelligence operatives due to the risk of actions being revealed in court that could harm intelligence operations," Scott Horton, a human rights lawyer and lecturer at Columbia University told Al Jazeera. "What's happening now is that human rights groups are saying that while the courts can't dig into everything there's an exception for crimes against humanity."
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