ACLU lawsuit

In May of 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of torture flight victims against Jeppesen for facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.

The ACLU website has detailed information on the lawsuit: ACLU

Below is a May 31, 2007 article from the LA Times on the lawsuit

ACLU suit alleges firm is profiting from torture

The Boeing subsidiary is accused of helping facilitate mistreatment
of terrorism suspects.
By Henry Weinstein
Times Staff Writer

May 31, 2007

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit Wednesday that
accused a Boeing Co. subsidiary of helping the Central Intelligence
Agency facilitate “the forced disappearance, torture and inhumane
treatment” of three men the government suspected of terrorist

“This is the first time we are accusing a blue-chip American company
of profiting from torture,” ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said at a news
conference in New York City.

Since at least 2001, Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. of San Jose “has provided
direct and substantial services to the United States for its so-
called ‘extraordinary rendition’ program,” the suit, filed in San
Jose federal court, alleges.

Extraordinary rendition is a highly secretive and extrajudicial
practice of transferring terrorist suspects to third-party countries
that routinely practice torture and other ill-treatment, according to
Human Rights Watch. After years of denial, the Bush administration
now acknowledges the tactic but denies sanctioning torture.

The suit was filed on behalf of Binyam Mohammed, a 28-year-old
Ethiopian citizen and British resident; Abou Elkassim Britel, a 40-
year-old of Moroccan descent naturalized in Italy; and Ahmed Agiza, a
45-year-old Egyptian. But the suit said that Jeppesen provided flight
and logistical support services for more than 70 extraordinary
renditions over a four-year period.

“Corporations should expect to get sued where they are making blood
money off the suffering of others,” said Clive Stafford Smith, a
British lawyer who has been representing Mohammed and is serving as
co-counsel on the ACLU suit.

Mike Pound, a Jeppesen spokesman, said the company had not been
served with the suit and consequently had no comment on its merits.

Tim Neale, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, declined to confirm
whether Jeppesen worked for the CIA. “The services Jeppesen provides
are provided on a confidential basis for all its customers,” he said.

ACLU attorney Steven Watt said his organization had obtained
information about Jeppesen’s role in the rendition program from a
variety of sources, including investigations in Spain, Sweden and
Italy; other court cases; and media reports, in particular a New
Yorker magazine article by Jane Mayer, portions of which were quoted
in the lawsuit.

Mayer wrote that a former Jeppesen employee told her that he had
heard a senior company official say at a board meeting: “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.”

The suit describes the airplanes used to move the three men around,
and states that Jeppesen played a critical role by providing flight
planning services, including itinerary, route, weather and fuel
planning, as well as customs clearance assistance, ground
transportation, food, hotels and security, the suit states.

The suit goes into considerable detail on what allegedly happened to
each of the men. The accounts include:

Mohammed was taken into custody in Pakistan in April 2002, tortured
by Pakistani agents and interrogated by U.S. and British intelligence
agents about his alleged ties to Al Qaeda.

Subsequently, Mohammed was flown to Morocco, where he was detained,
interrogated and tortured at a series of detention facilities.

“He was routinely beaten, suffering broken bones and, on occasion,
loss of consciousness due to the beatings. His clothes were cut off
with a scalpel and the same scalpel was then used to make incisions
on his body, including his penis. A hot stinging liquid was then
poured into open wounds on his penis where he had been cut,” the suit

Mohammed eventually was flown to Afghanistan, then to Guantanamo Bay
Naval Station, where he remains.

Britel, an Italian Arabic translator, traveled from his home in Italy
to Pakistan in March 2002 on business. He was arrested by Pakistani
police on immigration charges, interrogated, beaten and subjected to
sleep deprivation.

In April 2002, he “succumbed and confessed to what his interrogators
had been insisting from the outset, that he was a terrorist,” the
suits says. Subsequently, U.S. officials in Pakistan told Britel that
the Pakistani interrogators would kill him if he did not cooperate.
In late May 2002, Britel “was handcuffed, blindfolded and taken by
car” to an airport on the outskirts of Lahore and flown to Rabat,

In October 2003, Britel was convicted and sentenced to 15 years for
involvement in terrorist activities. An observer from the Italian
Embassy said “the procedures followed failed to comport with
universally accepted fair trial standards.” Britel remains imprisoned
in Casablanca.

The third plaintiff, Agiza, was first arrested in 1982 in connection
with the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. He moved to
Iran, and in 1999 was tried in absentia in Egypt for being a member
of a banned organization and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

In 2000, Agiza sought asylum in Sweden, where he was arrested by
Swedish security police, handed over to CIA agents, shackled, drugged
and flown from Stockholm to Cairo. In Egypt, he was repeatedly
subjected to torture, which included the use of electric shocks, the
suit says.

In April 2004, after a military trial, Agiza was sentenced again to
25 years imprisonment, later reduced to 15 years. He remains in
prison in Egypt.

The ACLU suit was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789,
which authorizes foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for human rights
violations. The CIA was not named as a defendant but may ask to have
the case dismissed under the “state secrets” doctrine.

First recognized by the Supreme Court 54 years ago, the states secret
privilege bars disclosure in court proceedings of information whose
release threatens national security.

Last March, a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., citing the
state secrets doctrine, dismissed a suit brought against the CIA by
Khaled El Masri, a German citizen who said he was abducted, flown to
Afghanistan and tortured.

ACLU lawyers said Wednesday that they had filed a petition that asked
the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the El Masri decision.

Romero said the Bush administration had invoked the state secrets
privilege in an attempt to “avoid accountability and embarrassment”
for torture and other government misdeeds in its war on terrorism.

In response to a request for comment, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano
said, “The CIA does not, as a matter of course, publicly discuss
contractual relationships it may or may not have with firms or

The renditions, he said, “are a key, lawful tool in the fight against
terror … subject to close review and have been employed far less
frequently than some press accounts suggest.”

Gimigliano also said the United States does not conduct or condone
torture, or transport anyone to other countries to be tortured.


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