The United States government is attempting to dismiss a lawsuit brought by
Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar, claiming the litigation would jeopardize
Invoking the rarely used “state secrets privilege,” U.S. Department of
Justice lawyers filed a motion with the New York eastern district court
this week, stating that the release of any information concerning the
U.S.’s involvement in Arar’s deportation to Syria could jeopardize
“intelligence, foreign policy and national security interests of the United
Lawyers with New York’s Centre for Constitutional Rights, who filed the
lawsuit on Arar’s behalf a year ago, said the government is abusing claims
of national security in order to avoid a review of its policies and
handling of terrorism suspects.
“They’re asking the court to sanction their cover-up basically,” lawyer
Maria LaHood said yesterday.
Arar was detained by immigration officials at New York’s JFK airport on
Sept. 26, 2002, and subsequently held as a terrorism suspect in a Brooklyn
jail, where he says he repeatedly asked to be sent back to Canada. On Oct.
8 he was flown on a private jet to Syria, via Jordan. Arar says he was
tortured and held without charges for a year before returning to Canada.
The Centre for Constitutional Rights launched Arar’s lawsuit last January
alleging that former attorney-general John Ashcroft, former homeland
security secretary Tom Ridge and other officials within President George W.
Bush’s administration knew Arar would be tortured when he was deported.
Arar alleges he was a victim of the government’s controversial policy of
“extraordinary rendition,” where American authorities can circumvent their
own restraints on interrogations by sending suspects to countries that
employ harsh tactics