Khaled Al-Masri Accused of Assault; German Journalists Investigated in Masri ‘Leak’

Khaled Al-Masri Accused of Assault; German Journalists Investigated in Masri ‘Leak’

"Munich to US: 'Don't Send Your CIA Thugs out into Europe's Streets'". Thus ran the triumphant headline on the Spiegel Online's English-language site a day after it became know that the Munich Public Prosecutor's Office had issued arrest warrants for 13 suspected CIA employees presumed to have participated in the abduction of German citizen Khaled Al-Masri in early 2004. Just one day later, however, the headline had acquired a certain unintended irony as reports emerged that Masri himself had beaten up a social worker in his hometown of Neu-Ulm, leaving the man hospitalized for three days. The assault occurred on Monday, Jan. 29. According to a Feb. 2 report in the Südwest Presse newspaper, citing the local Neu-Ulm prosecutor's office: "Masri is supposed to have pulled the man by the hair and thrown him against a wall. Then he threw a table at him, punched him in the face and stomped on him."

The victim of the assault is the project manager of a worker retraining program in which Masri, who has long been unemployed, was ordered to take part by the local employment agency. According to the Südwest Presse report, Masri, however, appears to have not taken the order very seriously, frequently missing the training sessions without credible excuses. On one absence form, he is supposed, for example, simply to have written: "Blondy! Big Hurry!" It was when summoned to the project manager's office to explain his absences that Masri is reported to have "flipped out." Masri's attorney, Manfred Gnjidic, did not deny the episode. Instead, he told the German wire service DPA that his client was "terribly sorry," attributing Masri's behavior to the "deep trauma" he had undergone -- i.e. presumably at the hands of the CIA.

Nonetheless, this appears not to have been the first such episode involving Masri. Another local paper, the Neu Ulmer Zeitung, reported Feb. 2: "Several years ago, Masri had already had problems with the German courts. At the time, he got into an argument with an employee in the local welfare office. During the episode, he is supposed to have "cleared away" a desk and forced the employee into a corner. Then, he is supposed to have thrown a chair at him."

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