PARIS - The European Court of Human Rights issued a landmark ruling on Thursday that condemned the CIA's "extraordinary renditions" programs and bolstered those who say they were illegally kidnapped and tortured as part of an overzealous war on terrorism.
The court ruled that a German car salesman was an innocent victim of torture and abuse, in a long-awaited victory for a man who had failed for years to get courts in the United States and Europe to acknowledge what happened to him.
Khaled El-Masri says he was kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003, mistaken for a terrorism suspect, then held for four months and brutally interrogated at an Afghan prison known as the "Salt Pit" run by the CIA.
He says that, once U.S. authorities realized he was not a threat, they illegally sent him to Albania and left him on a mountainside.
U.S. officials closed internal investigations into the El-Masri case two years ago, and the Obama administration has distanced itself from some counterterrorism activities conducted under former President George W. Bush.