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Ending Rendition?

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October 25, 2007

Yesterday, at a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted the government “mishandled” the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen and victim of extraordinary rendition.

In 2002, Arar was stopped at JFK airport and detained for two weeks before he was rendered to Syria, where he was tortured. When Rep. William Delahunt asked Rice if she knew that Arar had been tortured, she replied: “I am aware of claims that were made.”

This echoes Rice’s private admission to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2005 that the rendition of Khaled El-Masri was a mistake as well. But Rice refused to admit the mistake in public, and to date, El-Masri has still not received an apology from the U.S. government. Most recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear El-Masri’s case – a decision decried by The New York Times.

While El-Masri has exhausted his claims in U.S. courts, Arar has not. Arar, who is still not allowed to enter the U.S., will be represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights on November 9 in an appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rice told the committee yesterday: “We do absolutely not wish to transfer anyone to any place in which they might be tortured.” Rice agrees with us that Guantanamo must be closed; can we hope she’s considering an end to rendition too? We hope so.

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