Two European cases involving the CIA and extraordinary rendition put the case of Dirar Abusisi in the spotlight today. The European Court of Human Rights found Macedonia guilty of collaborating with the CIA in the case of Khaled al Masri, who was kidnapped and tortured by the U.S. in Afghanistan until he was able to persuade his captors that they had the wrong man. Before he was finally released, dropped on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere in Macedonia, he was grievously tortured. He won an $80,000 judgment from Macedonia, where he was kidnapped.
In a second case, the UK agreed to a $3.5-million settlement with Sami al-Saadi, who was kidnapped from Hong Kong and rendered to Qaddafi’s Libya, where he was tortured. After the recent Libyan revolution, CIA documents discovered in secret police headquarters revealed that MI6 has facilitated his kidnapping.
Another case also relates to the Abusisi case in that it proves that the Ukraine, where he was kidnapped by the Mossad, readily collaborates with other nations, most particularly Russia, in the kidnapping and rendition of foreigners who are in the midst of applying for asylum. Herszenhorn wrote about the case of Leonid Razvozzhayev, a political dissident wanted by Russia on trumped-up charges, who was kidnapped on the streets of Kiev and rendered to Russia where he was imprisoned. The Russian state lied, alleging that he returned voluntarily from Ukraine. The latter refused to open any investigation because it claims there is no record of anyone being kidnapped. This is almost precisely the stance it has taken in the Abusisi case. A perfunctory “investigation” followed by statements denying there is any evidence of a crime (because no country has complained that Abusisi was kidnapped!).
All of these cases are focusing attention on two critical elements of the extraordinary rendition process: the intelligence agency that orders and carries out the kidnapping and detention; and the nation which allows its territory to become the scene of such flagrant violations of human rights and international law.
Though the CIA has been the most guilty party in terms of intelligence agencies exploiting this process, the Mossad has apparently been studying these methods. Not that it needed any tutelage. The Mossad has been performing extraordinary rendition even before the term was coined. The cases of Adolph Eichmann, Mordechai Vanunu and Abusisi are but a few prominent examples. Not to mention those cases in which it dispensed with the kidnapping and simply assassinated the victim (Mahmoud al-Mabouh).
It is indeed welcome news that international law is finally catching up with such flouting of its basic safeguards. We can only await the day when the CIA or the U.S. government will be held accountable for its behavior. This will be hindered by the fact that the Republicans in Congress have refused to allow us to sign the International Criminal Court treaty. This means that the U.S. can act with relative impunity in the world. Perhaps European countries need to warn the U.S. that they will refuse to allow the CIA to operate on their territory unless we agree to adhere to the same conventions they do.
No government, no intelligence agency is above the law. If they are not violating their own domestic laws, they are violating international law and must be held accountable.
The next step would be to hold the Mossad and Ukraine accountable for their behavior in the Abusisi case. The family has been considering filing a case in the same European Court of Human Rights which heard the al-Masri case. I wish them success.