Image: Khaled al-Masri
Thomas Kienzle  /  AP file
Khaled al-Masri reads German newspapers covering his alleged abduction by the CIA in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005.
updated 5/16/2012 3:00:19 PM ET 2012-05-16T19:00:19

A German man who claims he was beaten and held in a secret prison in Afghanistan by the CIA has begun a lawsuit in Europe.

Khaled el-Masri, who is of Lebanese origin, alleges that he was the subject of a secret “rendition” operation and held in a concrete cell near Kabul for months, according to a press release issued by the European Court of Human Rights.

He says he was arrested in the former Yugoslav state of Macedonia in December 2003, and that his five-month ordeal only ended when U.S. personnel eventually decided they had got the wrong person, BBC News reported. The Afghan prison he was held in was nicknamed “the salt pit.”

El-Masri is suing the Macedonian government for its alleged involvement in the case.

He claims that he was “ill-treated” and kept in solitary confinement in a hotel in Skopje, Macedonia, for 23 days before he was handed over to the CIA, according to the court’s press release.

“He submits that he was beaten, kicked and threatened while interrogated in a small, dirty, dark concrete cell in which he was kept in a brick factory,” near Kabul, the statement added.

The court’s press release said the Macedonian government’s position was that el-Masri had been interviewed by police because he was “suspected of traveling with false documents.”

The Macedonia authorities say he had been allowed into the country and had then left, crossing the border with Kosovo.

The case is being heard by the court’s Grand Chamber, its highest level.

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