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CIA rendition case against Boeing unit blocked
02-15-2008, 10:24 PM,
CIA rendition case against Boeing unit blocked
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
Last Updated: 1:20am GMT 15/02/2008

A case filed on behalf of five terrorism suspects, including two based in Britain, who claimed they were flown overseas on Boeing planes to secret US prisons for torture and interrogation has been dismissed by a judge because he says it involves state secrets.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the complaint in May, claiming a unit of Boeing Co provided flight and logistical support to the US government on 70 "extraordinary-rendition" flights since 2001.

The group alleged that Jeppesen Dataplan Inc, the San Jose, California-based unit of Boeing, falsified flight plans to European air traffic control authorities to avoid public scrutiny of CIA flights.

The case was brought on behalf of an Ethiopian and an Iraqi, both based in British, an Italian who had been working in Pakistan, an Egyptian citizen living in Sweden and a Yemeni.

The five men said the CIA had them flown to foreign prisons for interrogations and torture. The suit claimed three of the men, who are still in prison, were tortured in Morocco and Egypt, and the other two were abused at a US air base in Afghanistan before being freed.

In his ruling US district judge James Ware said he said he had no authority to decide whether Jeppesen had colluded with the CIA to violate the suspects' rights.

He dismissed the suit, agreeing with the Bush administration which argued the case risked exposing state secrets and therefore could not be examined in public proceedings.

"At the core of plaintiffs' case against defendant Jeppesen are 'allegations' of covert US military or CIA operations in foreign countries against foreign nationals - clearly a subject matter which is a state secret," Mr Ware said.

The judge said he had reviewed declarations from Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, in his assessment of the case.

"The Court's review of General Hayden's public and classified declarations confirm that proceeding with this case would jeopardise national security and foreign relations and that no protective procedure can salvage this case," Mr Ware wrote.

Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the San Francisco Chronicle he planned to appeal the ruling.

"These kinds of decisions give the CIA immunity to violate the most fundamental rights without any judicial accountability," he said. "The CIA is not trying to protect state secrets. It's trying to protect itself from embarrassment."
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