[JURIST] Canadian citizen Maher Arar [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] on Monday asked [cert. petition, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to overturn a lower court ruling that he cannot sue the US government for damages based on his detention in the US and his detention, interrogation, and torture in Syria after he was mistakenly identified as a terrorist. Arar is attempting 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. Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] who are representing Arar said [press release]:
the Supreme Court should hear the case because the Court of Appeals' decision not only contradicts Supreme Court decisions but also raises issues of national importance by effectively immunizing federal officials who conspired to subject Arar to torture, and to block his access to a court that would almost certainly have barred the federal officials from carrying out their illegal plan.
The US government will have the opportunity to file an opposition brief before the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the appeal.
Arar is appealing the November ruling [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website], which held he could not sue the US government for damages. The appeals court, sitting en banc, dismissed Arar's suit, finding that a civil remedy for harms endured as a result of extraordinary rendition must be created by Congress alone. The 7-4 decision affirmed a 2006 ruling [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website], which dismissed Arar's claims. The Second Circuit agreed to rehear Arar's case en banc after a three-judge panel initially dismissed his appeal [JURIST reports] in July 2008. Arar, a Syrian-born engineer, immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of 17 and became a citizen in 1991. Arar was detained by US authorities in September 2002 after flying to New York from Tunisia on his way home to Canada. The US government deported him to Syria in 2002, where he was tortured despite Syrian assurances that he would not be. Canadian authorities have since cleared him of all suspicion, officially apologized, and paid him damages. US lawmakers apologized [JURIST report] in 2007 for his arrest, deportation, and torture at the hands of Syrian officials.