Kurnaz Lawyer Worried: German Army Destroyed Secret Files About Foreign Missions

A "technical defect" destroyed intelligence reports gathered on German army missions abroad between 1999 and 2003, according to a German television report. That means data concerning Murat Kurnaz, a Germany resident who spent five years in Guantanamo and has accused German soldiers of mistreating him, could be lost forever.

Murat Kurnaz (L), during a session of parliament's investigating committee in January, alleges that two German soldiers mistreated him while he was being held in Kandahar.
DDP

Murat Kurnaz (L), during a session of parliament's investigating committee in January, alleges that two German soldiers mistreated him while he was being held in Kandahar.

Secret intelligence reports regarding the German military's foreign missions between 1999 and 2003 have been destroyed because of a technical fault, according to a German media report.

The missing data may have included intelligence on the case of Murat Kurnaz, the German-born Turkish citizen who spent four years in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The Turkish citizen, who was born and raised in the German city of Bremen, was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and held in a US prison in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantánamo. He was eventually released in August 2006.

A parliamentary investigative committee in Berlin is currently looking into the Kurnaz case and, in particular, into whether the German government prevented his release in 2002 after the US had already decided he didn't pose a security risk.

Germany's ARD television program "Report Mainz" reported that the intelligence documents covered German operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and that the Defense Ministry had informed parliament's defense committee of their loss. The committee has been investigating Kurnaz's claims and had requested all army intelligence reports covering the time when he was held in Kandahar.

The Defense Ministry informed the committee in writing that a data storage system failed and that part of the files were rendered unreadable when the attempt was made to transfer them to a replacement system at the end of 2004.

The unreadable files were destroyed in July 2005 in keeping with ministry rules on the treatment of secret files, the ministry told the committee, according to the ARD program.

Kurnaz's lawyer Bernhard Docke suspects that the army may have destroyed incriminating evidence and that this may damage an investigation into Kurnaz's allegation that he was mistreated by two German soldiers from the elite KSK unit while he was being held in a US prison camp in Kandahar in 2002.

The state prosecution service in the southern city of Tübingen closed the investigation into that allegation in May but Docke wants to force it to reopen the case.

It's not the first time files regarding the Kurnaz case have gone missing. A German newspaper in February reported that the German Federal Intelligence Agency had misplaced transcripts of CIA interrogations of Kurnaz which could have cleared him of being a dangerous Islamist.

cro/dpa/AP

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