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Europe

EU: Germany Refused US Offer to Release Guantanamo Inmate

A German-born Turk ended up imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for three years longer than necessary after the former German government refused him entry to the country, an EU parliamentary committee said Tuesday.

German parliamentarians want to know what Steinmeier knew about Kurnaz' imprisonment

An investigation by the European Parliament into alleged CIA activities in Europe found that "according to confidential institutional information, the German government did not accept the US offer, made in 2002, to release Murat Kurnaz from Guantanamo."

The former government of then-chancellor Gerhard Schröder was accused of abandoning Kurnaz even after "US and German intelligence concluded, as early as 2002, that Murat Kurnaz had no connection to al Qaeda or the Taliban and that he posed no terrorist threat."

US forces seized Kurnaz in Pakistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and he was later sent to a US prison in Afghanistan before being incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay in 2002.

He was released last August because of a lack of proof that he had belonged to a terrorist organization, following repeated appeals by current Chancellor Angela Merkel to the US government after she took power in November 2005.

Germany also investigating

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Steinmeier said he was not aware of an offer to release Kurnaz

A German parliamentary committee is also investigating the former government's alleged role in Kurnaz' imprisonment and Thursday made similar allegations against the Schröder administration, a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, which included current Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, of refusing Kurnaz entry into Germany. At the time, Steinmeier was Schröder's chief of staff and responsible for secret service activities.

Steinmeier rejected the European report's conclusion that the German government prolonged Kurnaz' detention.

"I do not know of any such offer," he said Tuesday in Brussels.

"Mr. Kurnaz' long story of suffering in Guantanamo is harrowing," Steinmeier said before adding that the EU's accusations against him were "first of all false and also simply disgraceful."

Steinmeier said he wants to give testimony in Germany soon

Under pressure to clarify his knowledge of Kurnaz' case, Steinmeier said Monday he would testify when called on by the German inquiry into the issue.

In an interview with RBB radio, the committee's head, Siegfried Kauder, said March was the earliest the panel would call on Steinmeier. Other committee members, however, said they could imagine hearing his testimony sooner.

The Social Democratic leader in the European investigation, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler, said Steinmeier should not wait until being called before the parliamentary committee.

"You can always tell the truth," he said.

EU report condemns extraordinary renditions

The report said EU countries were aware of the US rendition program

In its final report after a year-long investigation, the European parliamentary committee also scrutinized charges that EU countries helped the US with secret CIA flights and the alleged abductions of terror suspects in Europe. The report was adopted with 28 in favor, 17 against and three abstentions.

The document said Britain, Poland, Italy, Germany and seven other EU countries were aware of the secret flights and the US detention program and slammed them for failing to fulfill "the European obligations, such as the respect of human rights."

There were "at least 1,245 CIA flight in European airspace" between the end of 2001 and the end of 2005, including 336 cases of planes making stops in Germany, according to the report.

The committee's final conclusions also charged the EU's foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana with not cooperating in the investigation and failing to reveal his knowledge about the US detention program.

DW.DE