NYT, WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 - A German citizen who says he was abducted, beaten and taken to Afghanistan by American agents in an apparent case of mistaken identity in 2003 filed suit in federal court today against George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director, and three companies said to have been involved in secret flight operations.
The suit came three days after Khaled el-Masri, a 42-year-old Lebanese-born former car salesman, was refused entrance to the United States after arriving Saturday in Atlanta on a flight from Germany with the intention of appearing at a news conference today in Washington. He spoke instead by video satellite link, describing somberly how he was beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs during five months in detention in Macedonia and Afghanistan.
The lawsuit, filed by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union in Alexandria, Va., came on a day of talks between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who said Ms. Rice had admitted that Mr. Masri's detention had been a mistake.
Since it was first reported in January, the Masri case has become an oft-cited example of tough American counterterrorism policies gone awry.
His lawsuit is the latest development in a series of challenges by human rights groups on the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine operations to transport, detain and interrogate suspected terrorists since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Under particular scrutiny are secret detention centers, including some reported to be in Eastern Europe; the use of harsh interrogation methods by American intelligence officers; and the delivery of more than 100 suspects to other countries, including some where torture has been routine, in a practice known as rendition.
Mr. Romero of the A.C.L.U. said the lawsuit was an attempt to counter the "culture of impunity" in the Bush administration for human rights violations and to force the C.I.A. to abandon practices in conflict with American values. The organization has obtained 77,000 pages of government documents on detention and interrogation under the Freedom of Information Act that have been the basis for thousands of news reports.
Mr. Romero took issue with a statement Ms. Rice made on Monday before leaving for Germany denying accusations of human rights violations and declaring that "the United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture."
"Unfortunately, as our lawsuit shows today, those statements are patently false," Mr. Romero said.
IN OTHER NEWS
a former college professor and three co-defendants accused of operating a North American front for Palestinian terrorists were acquitted today of a number of the 51 charges against them, and jurors said they were deadlocked on the rest.
The former professor, Sami Al-Arian, a fiery advocate for Palestinian causes, was found not guilty of eight counts related to terrorist support, perjury and immigration violations. The jury, in Federal District Court in Tampa, Fla., deadlocked on the remaining nine counts against him. Jurors, who deliberated for 13 days, returned no guilty verdicts against the three other defendants.
"This was a political prosecution from the start, and I think the jury realized that," one of Mr. Al-Arian's defense lawyers, Linda Moreno, said in a telephone interview. "They looked over at Sami Al-Arian, they saw a man who had taken unpopular positions on issues thousands of miles away, but they realized he wasn't a terrorist. The truth is a powerful thing."