For Immediate Release
Rendition Victims Can Get Justice in Italy and Canada But Not in US
WASHINGTON - In response to news of an Italian court’s conviction of 23
U.S. officials for their role in the extraordinary rendition of a Muslim cleric
unlawfully seized from the streets of Milan more than six years ago, Center for
Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren issued the statement
below. On Monday, an 11-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit here in New York dismissed the case of CCR client and rendition victim,
Canadian citizen Maher Arar.
Italian legal system held 23 U.S. officials accountable for unlawfully grabbing
a man, Abu Omar, off the streets of Milan and sending him to be tortured in
Egypt. In 2006 and 2007, the Canadian government concluded an extensive public
inquiry and apologized to our client Maher Arar for its role in his rendition
by the U.S. to Syria for torture when he was unlawfully seized while changing
planes at JFK on his way home to Canada. On Monday, our own courts threw out
his case and told him and the world that our legal system was no place to bring
reputation as a country of laws continues to suffer under the Obama
administration as they maintain their predecessors’ positions on one case
after another. They have promised they will no longer render people to
countries that torture but have refused to abandon the practice of rendition
altogether. The Bush administration claimed it received assurances from the
Syrian government that Maher Arar would not be tortured, either. Promises are
no way to ensure rights. The United States had an innocent man tortured, and he
continues to suffer the trauma to this day. Our government owes him an apology
and must take responsibility like the Canadians and dispense justice like the
For more on Mr. Arar’s case, including a timeline,
court papers and other documents, go to http://ccrjustice.org/
Additional information may be found by entering the search term
“Arar” at the Center for Constitutional Rights website, www.ccrjustice.org.
Mr. Arar is represented by CCR Senior Attorney Maria LaHood, Georgetown
Law Professor and CCR Cooperating Attorney David Cole, Joshua Sohn of DLA Piper
US LLP, Katherine Gallagher of CCR, and University of Pittsburgh
Law Professor and CCR cooperating attorney Jules Lobel.
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents other
victims of the United States government’s so-called war on terror, from
Iraqis tortured and abused at Abu Ghraib prison to Muslim and Arab men rounded
up and abused in immigration sweeps in the in the aftermath of 9/11 to the
victims of torture and abuse at Guantánamo and other detention centers in
multiple Supreme Court cases.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.