Justice Department seeks dismissal of torture rendition suit on security grounds

[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 can’t 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.


 

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