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Al Qaida suspects sue Boeing, with ACLU's help

WASHINGTON Boeing has been sued by suspected Al Qaida operatives transported by the CIA to Arab countries for interrogation and torture.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan on behalf of three Al Qaida suspects transported by the CIA under the so-called "extraordinary rendition program."

The suit charged that Jeppesen helped the CIA transport the three plaintiffs to secret locations in Egypt and Morocco, where the company knew they would undergo torture, Middle East Newsline reported.

"American corporations should not be profiting from a CIA rendition program that is unlawful and contrary to core American values," ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said. "Corporations that choose to participate in such activity can and should be held legally accountable."

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The plaintiffs named in the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, were Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza. Britel and Mohamed were said to have been flown by the CIA to Morocco. Agiza was taken to Egypt.

The suit said Jeppesen, based in San Jose, Calif., has been a key provider of flight and logistical support services for CIA aircraft in the rendition program. Since December 2001, the suit said, Jeppesen provided flight and logistical support to at least 15 CIA aircraft that conducted 70 rendition flights.

Jeppesen was said to have provided aircraft crew and flight planning services for the CIA program. The subsidiary also ensured customs clearance and security for CIA aircraft and crew.

"Jeppesen's services have been crucial to the functioning of the government's extraordinary rendition program," ACLU staff attorney Steven Watt said. "Without the participation of companies like Jeppesen, the program could not have gotten off the ground."

The suit was filed under the Alien Tort Statute, which permits aliens to bring claims in the United States for alleged violations that involve American citizens or assets. The statute accounts for torture.

In 2002, Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, was transported to Morocco, where he spent 18 months in prison in what the suit asserted included torture by the intelligence services of the North African kingdom. In 2004, he was taken by the CIA to a secret U.S. detention facility in Kabul, Afghanistan, and then to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he remains.

Britel was flown from Pakistan to Morocco in 2002. He was said to have remained in Morocco. Agiza was taken from Sweden to Egypt and remains in detention.

"For the first five weeks after his arrival in Egypt, Mr. Agiza was detained incommunicado," the suit said. "During his time and for some 10 weeks thereafter, he was repeatedly and severely tortured and denied meaningful access to consular officials, family members and lawyers."

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