Jeppesen lawsuit (re extraordinary rendition flights)
In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of Boeing, under the Alien Tort Claims Act in US court. The plaintiffs allege they had been abducted, transferred by aeroplane to secret locations and subjected to torture and cruel treatment. The Supreme court declined to hear the case, therefore closing it.
In May 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing) under the Alien Tort Claims Act in US federal court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five individuals who alleged that they had been abducted, transferred by aeroplane to secret locations and subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment through the US Government’s “extraordinary rendition” programme. Beginning in 2001, Jeppesen provided the US Central Intelligence Agency with flight plans and logistical support for the aircraft used in the extraordinary rendition flights. The plaintiffs allege that Jeppesen aided and abetted the torture and inhuman treatment they suffered and allege Jeppesen’s complicity in the violation of customary international law. They claim that Jeppesen had knowledge of the purpose of the flights.
Before Jeppesen responded to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the US Government filed a motion to intervene and to dismiss the case, under the state secrets privilege. This privilege is asserted by the government to exclude evidence from a case on the basis that the evidence could reveal information that would compromise national security. The Government argued that the entire subject matter of the lawsuit fell under the state secrets privilege and should be dismissed. The District Court granted the motion to dismiss in February 2008. The plaintiffs appealed this dismissal, and in April 2009 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s dismissal and remanded the case for trial. The Court of Appeals concluded that the subject matter of the lawsuit was not a state secret. The Court of Appeals reheard the case before an en banc panel of all 11 circuit court judges in December 2009. In September 2010 the Court of Appeals narrowly ruled that the case should be dismissed because of national security concerns. The plaintiffs petitioned the US Supreme Court on 7 December 2010 asking it to hear an appeal of the dismissal. In May 2011 the Supreme Court declined to hear the plaintiffs appeal.
- Supreme Court rejects torture victims' suit, Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 May 2011
- US court rejects Binyam Mohamed torture case, Haroon Siddique, Guardian [UK], 9 Sep 2010
- Suit by 5 ex-captives of CIA can proceed, appeals panel rules, Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr 2009
- US court dismisses CIA flights case, Al Jazeera, 14 Feb 2008
- A Bid to Litigate the Legality of U.S.-Sponsored Torture in Federal Court: Will It Succeed?, Anthony J. Sebok, Findlaw’s Writ, 5 Jun 2007
- Boeing subsidiary accused of aiding CIA torture flights, Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2007
- The C.I.A.'s Travel Agent, Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 30 Oct 2006
- American Civil Liberties Union [plaintiffs’ co-counsel]: Appeals Court Decision Denies Extraordinary Rendition Victims Their Day in Court, 8 Sep 2010
- American Civil Liberties Union: Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc [case summary, includes links to certain legal documents]
- [PDF] Mohamed, et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. - Brief of amici curiae International Legal Scholars and Human Rights Organizations in support of the petition for writ of certiorari, 12 Jan 2011
- [PDF] Mohamed, et al. v. United States of America and Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. - Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, 7 Dec 2010
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: [PDF] Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., 8 Sep 2010 [order dismissing the case following rehearing en banc]
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: [PDF] Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., 27 Apr 2009 [order reversing lower court’s dismissal of the case and remanding the case for trial]
- US District Court for the Northern District of California: [PDF]Mohamed v Jeppesen Dataplan - Order Granting the United States' Motion to Intervene and Granting the United States' Motion to Dismiss With Prejudice, 13 Feb 2008