Etterlysningen er politisk sensitiv, av to grunner: Det provoserer amerikanerne at en domstol i et alliert land utsteder en slik etterlysning på navngitte hemmelige agenter. Arrestordren kan bli en boomerang, hvis den parlamentariske kommisjonen som gransker tyske myndigheters behandling av tyrkiske Kurat Murnaz kan påvise at Joschka Fischer og regjeringen bevisst saboterte at Murnaz ble løslatt fra Guantanamo.
Det pågår fortsatt granskning av amerikanernes «renditions», deres flyvninger av terror-mistenkte på kryss og tvers. Frankfurt skal ha vært et knutepunkt for trafikken, og tyske myndigheter skal ha vært mer samarbeidsvillig enn den offisielle politikken skulle tyde på.
Prosecutors in Munich said the suspects, whom they did not name, were part of a C.I.A. «abduction team» that seized the man, Khaled el-Masri, in Macedonia in late 2003 and flew him to Afghanistan. He was imprisoned there for five months, and has said he was shackled, beaten, and interrogated about his alleged ties to Al Qaeda, before being released without charges.
His ordeal is the most documented case of the C.I.A.’s practice of «extraordinary rendition,» in which suspected terrorists are seized and sent for interrogation to countries where torture is practiced.
The issuing of an arrest warrant represents a major expansion of the legal assault on the C.I.A.’s rendition program in Europe. Italian prosecutors are seeking indictments against 25 C.I.A. operatives, as well as Italy’s former intelligence chief, for the kidnapping of a militant Egyptian cleric in 2003.
But the German case carries more weight, according to legal experts, because of the reputation of the courts here for painstaking deliberation, as well as the strong diplomatic ties between Germany and the United States.
«It is unique that a German court would issue warrants against 13 C.I.A. agents,» said Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green Party member of a German parliamentary committee which is investigating the flights.
The case also has political implications within Germany, where the role of the German government in tolerating — or even facilitating — C.I.A. flights has come under increased scrutiny. Frankfurt Airport was used for many of the flights, as was the American air base at Ramstein…
Mr. Stern, the prosecutor, said that a major break came from a Spanish reporter, who compiled a list of the names of people involved Mr. Masri’s abduction from sources in the Civil Guard, a Spanish paramilitary unit. The C.I.A. used the Spanish island of Majorca as a logistics center for its flights, Mr. Gnjidic said, and authorities found the names of members of the rendition team on hotel logs there.
Mr. Stern also credited tips from prosecutors in Milan and from Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who conducted an inquiry into the rendition program on behalf of the Council of Europe.
The nature of Germany’s role in Mr. Masri’s case, and in other C.I.A. flights, remains murky. Mr. Masri has claimed that when he was imprisoned in Kabul, he was interrogated three times by a German who identified himself as Sam.