Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Arar suit unaffected by ruling

CanWest News Service

Lawyers for Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar say his bid to sue the U.S. government for secretly shipping him to Syria for torture is unaffected by a U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday to reject another high-profile "extraordinary rendition" case.

They outlined differences between Arar's case and that of Khaled al-Masri, a Lebanese-born German citizen who has also seen lower courts cite national security concerns for refusing to consider his accusation the CIA kidnapped and tortured him.

"The state secrets assertion in (Arar's) case seeks to protect the reasons U.S. officials sent him to Syria instead of Canada, not whether they were even involved in his rendition, as in Mr. al-Masri's case," said the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York.

The centre's executive director, Vincent Warren, said exposing new U.S. secrets is unnecessary because the long-running Canadian judicial inquiry into Arar's case exposed a "significant amount" of what had been secret about the U.S. involvement in his deportation.

"In the al-Masri case the U.S. government would never admit it was even involved in his rendition, whereas in Maher Arar's case it is quite clear that it was involved," Warren said. "We've got the goods on the U.S. government and the court doesn't need to rely on secret government information in order to determine what happened."

Al-Masri says the CIA abducted him in Macedonia in 2003 and flew him to Afghanistan for interrogation.

The Supreme Court decision in his appeal means a lower court's ruling that his case can't be heard on national security grounds will stand.