The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied El-Masri access to justice yesterday because, according to the court, the simple fact of holding proceedings would jeopardize state secrets, a position advanced by the CIA.
"The court's decision gives the government a blank check to shield even its most shameful conduct from any scrutiny or accountability," said Ben Wizner, an attorney with the ACLU. "Depriving Khaled El-Masri of his day in court on the ground that the government cannot disclose facts that the whole world already knows only compounds the brutal treatment he endured."
El-Masri v. Tenet:
In a history-making lawsuit, the ACLU is challenging extraordinary rendition on behalf of Khaled El-Masri, an entirely innocent victim of rendition who was released without ever being charged.
The lawsuit charges that former CIA Director George Tenet violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when he authorized agents to abduct Mr. El-Masri, beat him, drug him, and transport him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. The corporations that owned and operated the airplanes used to transport Mr. El-Masri are also named in the case. The CIA continued to hold Mr. El-Masri incommunicado in the notorious "Salt Pit" prison in Afghanistan long after his innocence was known. Five months after his abduction, Mr. El-Masri was deposited at night, without explanation, on a hill in Albania.
The United States government has yet to acknowledge its unlawful abduction and mistreatment of Mr. El-Masri. No U.S. official has been held accountable for violating Mr. El-Masri's well-established rights to due process and fair treatment.
All Mr. El-Masri wanted was $75,000 and an apology.
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