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Latest update : 2014-07-15

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attack, questions have been asked about the tactics used in former US president George W. Bush's "War on Terror". Extraordinary rendition saw many suspects flown to other countries where beatings and torture were used to extract information and confessions. Our report features a man whose life has been shattered by this process. He was arrested, tortured, imprisoned for almost a decade... for something he did not do. He reveals his story to France 24.

He may be walking free in Italy, but three years after his release from prison, Abou Elkassim Britel is still haunted by his harrowing ordeal. An Italian of Moroccan descent, Britel was caught up in the "war on terror" – by mistake.

He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, tortured and flown to Morocco on an infamous secret CIA flight. He then spent nine years behind bars for allegedly belonging to a jihadist organization – without a shred of evidence.

But he never told his story. The memories of prison and torture remain painful. He may be back home in Italy, where he reunited with his wife, but he still suffers, vacillating between moments of anger, misery and despair.

He has no job, and little hope of finding one. He is so depressed he can’t even find the will to finish his project of translating religious texts into Italian, let alone muster the strength and means to lodge a complaint against the Italian state for what happened to him.

It took months to persuade Abou Elkassim Britel to talk to France 24. His wife repeatedly told us he wasn’t ready.

Then one day she put us in touch with him, first by email, then by Skype. Abou Elkassim Britel decided to tell us about his past, his aspirations, his life as a Muslim. It was difficult, but it was also a first step towards putting his life back together.

By Marc PERELMAN , Karim HAKIKI

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