Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Court Dismisses Rendition Suit
A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian man who had accused the United States of violating the law and his civil rights after he was detained at Kennedy Airport and sent to Syria under what he claims was an act of “extraordinary rendition.”
The man, Maher Arar, tried to win civil damages from United States officials in his suit, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that because he was never technically inside the United States, his claims could not be heard in the federal courts.
While stating that “threats to the nation’s security do not allow us to jettison principles of ‘simple justice and fair dealing,’ ” the majority opinion ruled nonetheless that Mr. Arar, who had been seized as he tried to change planes at Kennedy Airport while flying back to Canada from Switzerland, had no federal standing in his case and that the government did not violate the Torture Victim Protection Act by sending him abroad.
Mr. Arar, a telecommunications engineer, was detained at the airport in September 2002 when immigration officers found his name on a terrorist watch list. After being held for several days in New York, he was sent to Jordan by immigration officers and turned over to Syrian intelligence, which, he claims, tortured him.
In an occasionally scathing dissent, one judge, Robert D. Sack, said Mr. Arar’s suit should have been able to proceed because the argument that he was never really in the United States was “a legal fiction.”
“Arar was, in effect, abducted while attempting to transit at J.F.K. Airport,” Judge Sack wrote.
Posted by David Berner at 8:20 AM