US agents interrogate “renditioned” suspects in Ethiopian prisons

Despite recent denials by the Ethiopian regime, Der Spiegel corroborates June 11 that “terror suspects have been questioned by US officials in Ethiopia after being transferred from Somalia and Kenya. The captives included Europeans who were detained, interrogated and then released without charge.” Up to 100 suspects are thought to have been transferred to Ethiopia in the process known as “extraordinary rendition.” Der Spiegel spoke with Swedish citizen Munir Awad, 25, who was released from Ethiopian detainment three weeks ago. He told Der Spiegel that he had travelled to Mogadishu in December with his girlfriend Safia Benaouda, 17, also a Swedish citizen. He said that after Ethiopian forces invaded they fled to Kenya, where they were arrested by local militia, handed over to US troops and sent to Addis Ababa.

There, Awad said, they were held on a military base and interrogated, sometimes for 12 hours at a time or longer, and were not given access to a lawyer. He claimed that they were accused by the America interrogators of being al-Qaeda fighters. DNA samples were taken and they were questioned about Swedish Muslims. He says they were sometimes beaten or choked and only those who cooperated were allowed to sit or were given food.

In a related case, the Sunday Times of London reported June 10 that British student Reza Afsharzadagen, 25, who was among refugees forced to flee Somalia in December, was also arrested in Kenya and sent back to Somalia. He said he was there handed over to Ethiopian soldiers, but a British diplomat intervened and took him home. According to the newspaper, flight records show that 85 other prisoners were transferred to Ethiopia for interrogation, and that these included 11 women and 11 children.

The government in Washington confirmed to Der Spiegel that “in the past few months a number of prisoners have been questioned in Ethiopia.” Up to 200 agents of the CIA and FBI are thought to be currently based in Addis Ababa.

See our last posts on Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa and the secret CIA archipelago.