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Rendition flights case goes to Supreme Court

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Five detainees who want to sue a subsidiary of Boeing for its alleged involvement in rendition flights that carried them to foreign countries for torture have taken their case to the US Supreme Court on Thursday. The five, from Egypt, Italy, Yemen, Ethiopia and Iraq, are asking the court for compensation for unlwaful abduction, arbitrary detention and torture.


The case against subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan was dismissed in a lower court because  the White House said allowing the suit would expose state secrets.

"To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture program has had his day in a US court," said Ben Wizner, Litigation Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Security Project.

The ACLU first brought the case to court in 2007 on behalf of the detainees in an effort to end the air transfers, also called "renditions." Their case alleged that the men were kidnapped, transported to foreign countries between 2001 and 2003 by Jeppesen Dataplan and tortured by the CIA or local security forces on the ground.

In April 2009 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the case to go forward, but President Barack Obama appealed the ruling to the same court, where it was dismissed in September.

"The government has misused the state secrets priviledge to deny justice to torture victims and to shield their torturers from liability," said Wizner.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case in the next few months.