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US appeals court dismisses lawsuit alleging Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan's complicity in torture, on grounds of national security - plaintiffs to appeal to Supreme Court

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9 September 2010

US court rejects Binyam Mohamed torture case

Author: Haroon Siddique, Guardian [UK]

A US court has ruled narrowly that Binyam Mohamed, the British resident secretly rendered to Morocco by the CIA…, cannot sue over his alleged torture in overseas prisons because it would compromise national security. Mohamed was the lead plaintiff in a case brought by…five former prisoners who claim they were tortured after being transferred to other countries through the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme. They are fighting for the right to sue Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary accused of arranging flights for the CIA. A US court ruled last year that the case could proceed, but the Obama administration appealed and yesterday the United States court of appeals for the ninth circuit dismissed the case – although the judges were sharply divided by six to five on the decision.

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8 September 2010

Torture Is a Crime, Not a Secret

Author: [opinion] New York Times

Five men who say the Bush administration sent them to other countries to be tortured had a chance to be the first ones to have torture claims heard in court…[T]he men’s lawsuit was tossed out on Wednesday by the full United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The decision diminishes any hope that this odious practice will finally receive the legal label it deserves: a violation of international law. The lawsuit was brought in 2007 against a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen Dataplan…The Ninth Circuit was sharply divided…[T]he majority said any effort by the company to defend itself would pose “an unacceptable risk of disclosure of state secrets.”…[T]he five-judge minority point[ed] out that the plaintiffs were never even given a chance to make their case in court using nonsecret evidence…

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8 September 2010

[PDF] Binyam Mohamed, et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. - Opinion

Author: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

This case requires us to address the difficult balance the state secrets doctrine strikes between fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security. Although as judges we strive to honor all of these principles, there are times when exceptional circumstances create an irreconcilable conflict between them. On those rare occasions, we are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s admonition that “even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that [state] secrets are at stake.”…After much deliberation, we reluctantly conclude this is such a case, and the plaintiffs’ action must be dismissed. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

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