[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments Tuesday in an en banc rehearing of Arar v. Ashcroft [CCR backgrounder]. Canadian citizen Maher Arar [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] is seeking a declaratory judgment against US government officials for having deported him to Syria [JURIST news archive] in 2002, where he was tortured despite Syrian assurances [Globe & Mail report] that he would not be. In August, the court granted the request for a rehearing, after initially dismissing [JURIST reports] Arar's suit in July. Counsel for Arar argued [AFP report] that Arar was a victim of a high-level US conspiracy to subject him to torture. The government argued that the court should not decide the case, allowing Congress an opportunity to create legislation to deal with an unusual circumstance like Arar's.
Arar was detained by the US in September 2002 after flying to New York from Tunisia on his way home to Canada. Arar has argued [CCR press release] that he should be able to challenge the US government's policy of extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] under the Torture Victim Protection Act [text] and the Fifth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution. In October 2007, US lawmakers apologized [JURIST report] to Arar during a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee [official website]. In January 2007, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Arar [JURIST report] on behalf of the Canadian government and announced a settlement of $10.5 million (CAD) compensation for pain and suffering in connection with its involvement in the deportation. Last Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that an Egyptian Christian who could face torture in Egypt [JURIST news archive] could challenge his deportation from the US.