[News] US battling CIA rendition case in 3 courts

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 10 17:24:27 EDT 2009

U.S. battling CIA rendition case in 3 courts

so what has changed under Obama?

<mailto:begelko at sfchronicle.com>Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, August 10, 2009

(08-09) 18:43 PDT -- The Obama administration is fighting on multiple 
fronts - in courts in San Francisco, Washington and London - to keep 
an official veil of secrecy over the treatment of a former prisoner 
who says he was tortured at Guantanamo Bay.

The administration has asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco 
to reconsider its ruling allowing Binyam Mohamed and four other 
former or current prisoners to sue a Bay Area company for allegedly 
flying them to overseas torture chambers for the CIA.

Obama administration lawyers also argued that Mohamed's attorneys had 
violated secrecy procedures by writing a letter to President Obama, 
accompanied by a blacked-out document, asking him to disclose their 
client's treatment. A federal judge ordered Mohamed's lawyers to 
answer contempt-of-court charges in May that were punishable by up to 
six months in jail, but has since dropped those charges.

Most recently, a British government lawyer told her nation's High 
Court last month that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had 
threatened to limit U.S. intelligence-sharing with Great Britain if 
the court disclosed details of Mohamed's treatment in Guantanamo.

The British court declared in August 2008 that there was evidence 
Mohamed had been tortured, but deleted the details from its public 
version of the ruling at the Bush administration's insistence.

The court is now considering requests from lawyers for Mohamed and 
the news media to make the details public in a case over alleged 
British participation in his mistreatment.

According to a transcript of the court's July 29 hearing, Lord 
Justice John Thomas said there was "nothing in the paragraphs (about 
the U.S. government's treatment of Mohamed) that could conceivably 
identify anything that is of a national security interest."

Jeppesen sued

Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian refugee and British resident, was arrested 
in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to U.S. authorities as a 
suspected terrorist and Taliban fighter. He said he was tortured in 
Morocco, where guards slashed his genitals with a razor blade, and in 
a CIA prison in Afghanistan, where he was beaten, hung from a pole 
and held in darkness and isolation. He was sent to Guantanamo in 
September 2004.

He and four other men have sued Jeppesen Dataplan, a San Jose 
subsidiary of the Boeing Co., for its alleged role in arranging their 
flights for the CIA. A Council of Europe report in 2007 described 
Jeppesen as the CIA's aviation services provider.

Suit reinstated

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated 
the suit in April, rejecting arguments originally made by the Bush 
administration that the case posed grave risks to national security. 
Obama administration lawyers endorsed those arguments at a hearing in 
February and have asked the court for a rehearing.

Mohamed's lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith and Ahmad Ghappour of the 
British human-rights group Reprieve, were threatened with jail after 
drafting a letter to Obama in February urging him to release the 
evidence of their client's treatment in U.S. custody or to authorize 
Britain to do so.

The lawyers said a Defense Department review team refused to let them 
provide a summary of the classified evidence to Obama, so they sent 
him a blacked-out sheet instead and released both documents to the 
press. But government lawyers said Mohamed's attorneys misled the 
review team about their plans and misled the public by accusing the 
team of concealing information from the president.

Contempt charges

Citing the government's accusations, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan 
of Washington ordered Mohamed's attorneys to appear before him in May 
and face contempt charges, punishable by up to six months in jail, 
for allegedly violating terms of the agreement that allowed them to 
gain access to Guantanamo prisoners.

But after further arguments, Hogan said there had been 
misunderstandings by both sides and no violation. The Justice 
Department declined comment on the case last week.

E-mail Bob Egelko at <mailto:begelko at sfchronicle.com>begelko at sfchronicle.com.


This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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