Victims of extraordinary rendition cannot sue, US court rules

Legal action by terror suspects sent by the CIA to foreign countries for torture blocked on national security grounds

The victims of the Bush administration's programme of "extraordinary rendition" will not be able to sue the private company which transported them to foreign countries for torture by the CIA, after the present White House stepped in to squash their lawsuit on the grounds of national security.

A California court has sided with the Obama administration, which argued that a case led by the British resident Binyam Mohamed against the aerospace giant Boeing was bound to reveal state secrets and sensitive intelligence information.

Legal supporters of Mr Mohamed raised uproar at the decision, which the judge in charge of the case said had presented a "painful conflict between human rights and national security".

Ben Wizner, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the case, called it "a sad day not only for the torture victims whose attempt to seek justice has been extinguished, but for all Americans who care about our nation's reputation in the world", and vowed to appeal to the US Supreme Court. "To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture programme has had his day in court," the attorney said.

Reprieve, which campaigns for the human rights of prisoners, said the California court had "derailed another precious chance at a legal reckoning with the excesses of the war on terror". The group's executive director, Clare Algar, said: "Yet again, those responsible for torture and rendition have used 'state secrecy' to avoid facing up to their crimes in court."

President Barack Obama called an end to the use of torture and extraordinary rendition. But in a string of cases related to the treatment of terrorism suspects and other national security issues, the Obama administration has adopted and extended its predecessor's efforts to protect state secrets and intelligence sources from public disclosure. Disappointed human rights campaigners also point out that Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba remains open, eight months after Mr Obama's promised deadline for shutting it down.

Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed and fellow complainants accused Jepperson Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, of arranging illegal rendition flights for the CIA and sought damages. In a narrow 6-5 ruling that reversed a lower court decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said this was a "rare" case where national security concerns trumped the right to a trial.

Judge Raymond Fisher said: "We have tried our best to evaluate the competing claims of plaintiffs and the government and resolve that conflict according to the principles governing the state secrets doctrine set forth by the US Supreme Court."

The ruling stands in contrast to a UK Court of Appeals judgment earlier this year which forced disclosure of intelligence documents detailing how much MI5 knew about Mr Mohamed's case. And in a signal that the US appeals panel decision was a complex one, it ordered the government to pay the plaintiffs' legal costs.

"The attorney general adopted a new policy last year to ensure the state secrets privilege is only used in cases where it is essential to protect national security," a US Justice department spokesman said after Wednesday's ruling. "We are pleased that the court recognised that the policy was used appropriately in this case." Boeing declined to comment.

Mr Mohamed was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and flown to Morocco, where he says he was tortured at a CIA "black site" with the involvement of British and US intelligence agencies. His penis was repeatedly cut with a scalpel to force him to confess as an al-Qai'da terrorist. After Morocco, he spent four months in a CIA prison in Kabul before ultimately being flown to Guantanamo Bay. He was released in February 2009, and his pursuit of justice on both sides of the Atlantic since then has caused ructions in the relationship between the US and the UK.

He sued the British authorities after it was revealed that MI5 supplied lists of questions to be put to him while he was being held in Morocco and elsewhere. The British Government fought to block the disclosure of intelligence information exchanged between the secret services of the UK and the US, but lost that fight in the UK Court of Appeal in February this year.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup