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No honour for new intel chief over Gitmo scandal

The Local · 20 Jul 2012, 11:02

Published: 20 Jul 2012 11:02 GMT+02:00

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The nomination of lawyer Hans-Georg Maaßen for the honour was rejected by academic chiefs at the Free University of Berlin after they read about his report recommending the German government deny the prisoner re-entry to the country – effectively abandoning him in prison.

Der Spiegel magazine said Maaßen's report was instrumental in the Free University's decision to deny him an honorary degree because his actions did not conform to the university's basic principles.

He had been nominated by the university's law department, but a confidential academic committee meeting on July 11 voted against honouring Maaßen by 12 votes to 10, unnamed university sources told the magazine.

The university refused to comment officially on Maaßen's rejection, but academic sources cited by the magazine said it was highly unusual for the committee to deny anyone an honorary degree following a nomination.

Maaßen is due to take over the domestic intelligence service on August 1, but his fitness for the post has been questioned because of his role in the affair of Murat Kurnaz, a Guantanamo Bay prisoner from the German city of Bremen.

Kurnaz was arrested in Pakistan by the US shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, suspected of supporting the Taliban. He was taken to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and tortured and interrogated before his eventual release in 2006.

But the US had already offered to release Kurnaz back to Germany in 2002, only for the German government to deny him re-entry to the country - because that he had violated the terms of visa by spending more than six months outside Germany, even though this was due to his imprisonment.

Maaßen wrote the report recommending this decision, which was approved by the centre-left government at the time - in effect condemning an innocent man to another four years in Guantanamo Bay. The decision was only overturned in 2006, and Kurnaz now works as a social worker in Bremerhaven.

An analyst quoted in Der Tagesspiegel newspaper said that Maaßen was considered a "hardliner" on immigrant policy and "not known for his anti-racist positions."

Story continues below…

Conservative Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich had praised Maaßen as a "proven expert and brilliant lawyer" earlier this week. He designated him to take over from Heinz Fromm who resigned after 12 years over intelligence failures in the investigation of a right-wing terrorist group.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:06 July 20, 2012 by Repatriated
I can only guess what Murat Kurnaz was doing in Pakistan shortly after 9/11 to have received the attention of the US military. If he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar then he should have been repatriated back to his native country instead of being welcomed back to Germany after getting released from Gitmo. Kurnaz' allegiance was apparently with his Islamic terrorist friends instead of with the West. Hans-Georg Maaßen did the right thing. The Free University of Berlin did the wrong thing. I would seriously question the loyalty of the 12 academic committee members who voted against Maaßen.
13:45 July 20, 2012 by William Thirteen
yes, let us question the 'loyalty' of all those who don't champion the activities of the military/security state.

from Wikipedia:

Murat Kurnaz (born March 19, 1982 in Bremen, Germany) was wrongly held in extrajudicial detention at the U.S. military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan and in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba for four years.

Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen and legal resident of Germany, was in the process of becoming a German citizen when he was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001.

The United States and Germany discovered in 2002 that the accusations against Kurnaz were groundless but he was imprisoned for five years and was released and arrived in Germany August 24, 2006.

Kurnaz says that he has been tortured and in a congressional hearing he described electric shock, simulated drowning, and days spent chained by his arms to the ceiling of an airplane hangar.

14:01 July 20, 2012 by DoubleDTown
so, Turkish citizen Kurnaz chose Guantanamo over a return to Turkey? Seems Germany wasn't the only country that didn't want him.... Just sayin'
14:42 July 20, 2012 by IchBinKönig
I guess Mehdi Ghezali was innocent as well? That's why he was released back to Sweden after spending some time in Guantanamo. Wasn't he only in the 'wrong place, at the wrong time', too? Well, until he was in the right place at the right time in Burgas, Bulgaria.
15:35 July 20, 2012 by catjones
I have none of the facts, but I do have a strong opinion and can go off in tangents.
19:09 July 20, 2012 by PNWDev
@William Thirteen

You support your worldview by sourcing a Wikipedia page? Should we take you serious? Isnt referencing a Wikipedia page a little like referencing another post authored by yourself?
11:16 July 21, 2012 by michael4096
"I can only guess what Murat Kurnaz was doing in Pakistan shortly after 9/11 to have received the attention of the US military."

That's the problem isn't it? Why was the man holding the ski-mask approaching the bank? That is why law courts are so popular in most of the civilized world.

However, Mr Maaßen doesn't even have the uncertainty as an excuse just process as a crutch - the guy was already found not guilty of anything.

" Isnt referencing a Wikipedia page a little like referencing another post authored by yourself?"

Which do you trust most: a source such as an encyclopedia or newspaper controlled by a half-dozen editors or a site checked continuously by most of the world?
07:21 July 23, 2012 by ChrisRea
It is a shame that Hans-Georg Maaßen will be the intel chief. He reminds me of the character played by Meryl Streep in "Rendition".
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