The ACLU filed an interesting lawsuit today which charges Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, with assisting in the unlawful rendition of three terrorism suspects who were transported out of the United States by Jeppesen, and were ultimately tortured by the CIA.
The lawsuit charges that Jeppesen knowingly provided direct flight services to the CIA that enabled the clandestine transportation of Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza to secret overseas locations where they were subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
"American corporations should not be profiting from a CIA rendition program that is unlawful and contrary to core American values," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "Corporations that choose to participate in such activity can and should be held legally accountable."
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Jeppesen provided crucial support services to the CIA for the following flights involving the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit:
- In July 2002, Ethiopian citizen Binyam Mohamed, while in CIA custody, was stripped, blindfolded, shackled, dressed in a tracksuit, strapped to the seat of a plane and flown to Morocco where he was secretly detained for 18 months and interrogated and tortured by Moroccan intelligence services.
- In January 2004, Mohamed was once again blindfolded, stripped, and shackled by CIA agents and flown to the secret U.S. detention facility known as the "Dark Prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan where he was again tortured and eventually transferred to another facility and then to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he still remains.
- In May 2002, Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel was handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped, dressed in a diaper, chained, and flown by the CIA from Pakistan to Morocco where he was tortured by Moroccan intelligence agents and where he is now incarcerated.
- In December 2001, Egyptian citizen Ahmed Agiza was chained, shackled, and drugged by the CIA and flown from Sweden to Egypt where he was severely abused and tortured and where he still remains imprisoned.
According to published reports, Jeppesen had actual knowledge of the consequences of its activities. A former Jeppesen employee informed The New Yorker magazine that, at an internal board meeting, a senior Jeppesen official stated, "We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights - you know, the torture flights. Let's face it, some of these flights end up that way." (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, Oct. 30, 2006.)
The lawsuit was filed under the Alien Tort Statute, which permits aliens to bring claims in the United States for violations of the law of nations or a United States treaty. The statute recognizes international norms accepted among civilized nations that are violated by acts such as enforced disappearance, torture and other inhuman treatment described in the lawsuit.
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