A Canadian citizen sent by US to Syria.
Even if the government agreed with a Canadian citizen’s claims that American officials sent him to Syria in the year 2002 to be tortured, he should not be allowed to sue for damages. There was not any Constitutional violation and that the Congress has not authorized such lawsuits, argued a Justice lawyer on Tuesday before a federal appeals court in Manhattan.
The lawyer, Jonathan F. Cohn, added vigorously that the government did not agree with the claims made by Maher Arar, who has been trying to sue for the deprivation of his rights. His case has come to symbolize the hotly debated policy, which is known as extraordinary rendition, of moving terror suspects to countries which are engaged in torture.
Mr. Arar, who was detained in September 2002 as he changed planes at Kennedy International Airport on his way to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia, was sent to Syria, he says, he was tortured in the one year period he spent in confinement.
He was released in the year 2003, and Canadian officials later said that he had never had any involvement in terrorism.
A suit filed by Mr. Arar was dismissed in the year 2006 by a federal judge in Brooklyn. The ruling was later affirmed in June by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
But in a highly unexpected step, the appeals court decided to rehear the matter, and on Tuesday, 12 judges engaged in a spirited debate with Mr. Arar’s lawyer and Mr. Cohn, regarding whether or not Mr. Arar can sue.
David D. Cole, lawyer of Mr. Arar, argued that American officials had not only sent Mr. Arar to Syria to be tortured in order to make him talk, they also prevented him from seeking help in legal system during the period he was detained here.
Mr. Cole said that having kept Mr. Arar out of court while they had him in their custody, defendants now ask this court to deny any claim for relief as he did not pursue the avenues of judicial redress that they blocked him from pursuing. He said that Catch-22 cannot be and is not the law.
At one point, Judge Barrington D. Parker Jr. observed that the court frequently considered cases that raised foreign policy concerns, similar in which non-citizens claimed they would be tortured or persecuted if they are forced to go back to their home countries.