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Federal judge dismisses Canadian extraordinary rendition suit

[JURIST] US District Judge David G. Trager has granted the US Justice Department's request for dismissal [memorandum, PDF; JURIST report] of a civil rights lawsuit filed by Maher Arar [advocacy website, CBC timeline], in what is believed to be the first suit filed challenging US extraordinary rendition [CBS report; JURIST news archive] practices. The Syrian-born Canadian was detained in 2002 during a layover at New York's JFK airport on a flight home to Canada from Tunisia; he was detained by US immigration officials and then deported to Syria, where he was born. Arar alleged he was deported so that he could be tortured in Syria, where he eventually made false admissions of terrorist activity. Referring to information linking Arar to al Qaeda, the Justice Department said that deporting him was "in the best interest of the United States." Syria has denied the allegations of abuse.

Arar's lawyers argued that the Torture Victim Protection Act [text] provides the US court with jurisdiction over cases involving civil rights abuses committed abroad, but Judge Trager dismissed the case [opinion, PDF] citing "the national security and foreign policy considerations at stake" and held that Arar, as a non-citizen, could not raise a constitutional right to due process. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights has a press release on the ruling and background on the case. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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