[JURIST] Citing national security concerns, the US Justice Department has asked a federal district court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Canadian man who claims he was deported to Syria and tortured. Maher Arar [Wikipedia profile], born in Syria and a citizen of Canada as well, was detained at JFK Airport in New York City in September 2002 while changing planes during a vacation trip from Tunisia back home to Canada; he was held in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn detention center for a while and was then deported to Syria, a move which angered the Canadian government and rights groups. Arar claims that in Syria he was tortured into making false confessions of terrorist involvement; the Center for Constitutional Rights [case background] filed suit against the US government on his behalf in 2004. The Justice Department now wants the suit dismissed because they say it would force them to reveal classified information [PDF assertion of secrets privilege, motion opposing] that links Arar to al-Qaeda. Democracy Now has an interview with David Cole [text], the lead attorney on the case for CCR and Arar, discussing the implications of the government's motion:
What we're saying in this lawsuit is that [renditions are] unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment. It is -- you cant beat people, nor can you send people to other countries to be beaten, and it's something that warrants judicial intervention.A number of Guantanamo detainees have made generally similar allegations [JURIST report] about the US sending terror suspects to foreign countries where they could be tortured. AP has more.