THE Obama Administration cannot use state secrecy doctrine to block Binyam Mohamed’s litigation against aviation company, Jeppesen Dataplan, a US Federal Court ruled yesterday.
The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal rejected the Administration’s invocation of state secrets privilege and instructed the District Court to proceed with the case.
The company is said to have supplied crucial logistical support and to have profited from a lucrative contract in transporting prisoners.
The Bush Administration had applied to get the case thrown out on the grounds that, by exposing details of the US renditions programme, the case would jeopardise national security. To the disappointment of human rights supporters, the Obama Administration took the same view.
Although the District Court accepted this argument, the Appeals Court yesterday reversed their decision, stating that it is not acceptable to throw out an entire case for national security reasons.
Rather, Judge Hawkins states that each piece of evidence must be weighed separately as to the ‘danger’ it would pose if made public. The case may then proceed with whatever evidence is safe to be revealed.
‘This is a tremendous step forward in the battle to stop corporations making money from the rendition, torture and suffering of the prisoners we represent,’ said Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve.
‘Binyam Mohamed, Bisher al-Rawi and perhaps many others, are one step closer to making the CEOs of these companies stop and think before they commit criminal acts for profit.’
Renditions investigator Clara Gutteridge said: ‘It is a relief that the United States’ courts are finally taking these torture claims seriously. However, we are only beginning to uncover the truth of exactly how these torture flights were allowed to happen.
‘It is inconceivable that Jeppesen acted alone. People in the highest echelons of the US – and in some cases the UK – governments have authorised illegal rendition flights and must also be held accountable.’