Email Shows CIA Turned Blind Eye to Secret Rendition and Possible Torture of U.S. Citizen

Brian Zick

Jonathan Landay and Shashank Bengali for McClatchy report: NAIROBI, Kenya - CIA officers in Kenya failed to use their influence to win the release of an American citizen who was secretly deported to Somalia and is now imprisoned in Ethiopia, a country that the State Department says abuses detainees, according to an internal U.S. government e-mail. The message, which was read to McClatchy Newspapers, said that some U.S. officials thought the CIA station in Nairobi had enough influence with Kenyan authorities to free Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, of Tinton Falls, N.J., but didn't use it. The message's author worried that the failure to demand Meshal's release might set a bad precedent. The State Department has claimed that it had no control over Kenya's action. A U.S. intelligence official in Washington said the CIA wasn't involved in the matter. Meshal presented U.S. officials with a dilemma. He was captured by Kenya in January along with about 150 men, women, and children of 17 nationalities as they fled a U.S.-backed offensive against Islamist militias by the Somali government and Ethiopian forces. FBI agents interviewed Meshal twice while he was in custody in Nairobi, Kenya's capital, and concluded that he was a "jihadist" who'd been trained in al-Qaida camps and might be dangerous. They didn't have enough evidence, however, to charge him with a crime if he was returned to the United States. Despite the fact that neither the U.S. nor Kenya filed charges against him, Meshal was among at least 80 detainees who were flown to the Somali town of Baidoa between Jan. 20 and Feb. 10 on chartered aircraft, according to flight records released by a Kenyan court. U.S. officials and Kenyan, British and American human-rights monitors believe that most of them were turned over to Ethiopia. Another American who was caught fleeing Somalia, Daniel Joseph Maldonado, confessed to joining al-Qaida. He was turned over to U.S. authorities in Kenya, returned to Texas and charged with training at an al-Qaida camp. Couldn't prove the bastard was guilty, so let the torturers have him. That'll teach him who not to let have enough evidence to charge him for a crime! Who does he think he is, an innocent U.S. citizen who can rely on the U.S. government to safeguard his basic human rights?

Brandon Johnson
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