The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday denied certiorari [order list, PDF] in Arar v. Ashcroft [docket; cert. petition, PDF], a case concerning the US government's extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] policy. Canadian citizen Maher Arar [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] asked the court in February to overturn a lower court ruling [JURIST report] 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 was attempting to challenge the government's extraordinary rendition policy under the Torture Victim Protection Act and the Fifth Amendment [texts] of the US Constitution. The court declined to hear Arar's appeal without comment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who sat on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] when the case was decided en banc, took no part in the decision. Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] who represented Arar expressed disappointment [press release] with the court's decision.
Arar was appealing a November 2009 ruling [JURIST report] by the Second Circuit, 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. He 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.