Statement by Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union is filing a federal lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Company, on behalf of three victims of the United States government’s unlawful “extraordinary rendition” program. We are charging that Jeppesen knowingly provided direct flight services to the CIA that enabled the clandestine transportation of Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, and Ahmed Agiza to secret overseas locations where they were subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
The lawsuit alleges the complicity of a major U.S. corporation in carrying out the illegal and pernicious practice of extraordinary rendition. Extraordinary rendition should be condemned; it should not be seen as a source of corporate profit.
We are filing this lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who have been repeatedly tortured, terrified, humiliated and deprived of their basic human rights. As the complaint sets forth in detail, Jeppesen provided the full range of flight services to transport these three men to the countries where they were tortured. American companies should not be profiting from a CIA rendition program that is unlawful and contrary to core American values. Corporations that choose to participate in such activities can and should be held legally accountable.
As Jane Mayer reported in her aptly titled New Yorker article, “Outsourcing: The CIA’s Travel Agent,” a former Jeppesen employee quoted a senior Jeppesen executive as saying: “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights – you know, the torture flights. Let’s face it, some of these flights end up that way.” He also said, according to the article: “It certainly pays well. They” – referring to the CIA – “spare no expense. They have absolutely no worry about costs.”
You will note that none of our three plaintiffs is with us today. That’s because one, Binyam Mohamed, is imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay, a facility whose very existence rightly continues to be a source of international shame for the United States. The second plaintiff, Abou Elkassim Britel, is imprisoned in Morocco. The third, Ahmed Agiza, is imprisoned in Egypt.
None of these three men can speak for themselves today. So we will. The federal lawsuit we are filing on their behalf charges that Boeing Company subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan played a direct and fundamental role in the planning and execution of the rendition flights, and knew or should have known that our plaintiffs, and many others like them, were placed on the flights shackled and blindfolded and were being taken to countries where torture awaited them.
In a country that believes in respect for the rule of law and basic human dignity, participation in a program based on forced disappearance and torture should never be seen as simply another money-making activity.
Finally, we are today announcing further action on a matter that also involves extraordinary rendition – and that is the El-Masri lawsuit. My colleagues will have more to say about the case of Khaled El-Masri – an innocent man to whom many horrible things have been done.
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