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ACLU sues Boeing subsidiary over 'torture' flight

AP | May 31, 2007 

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday it is suing Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Co., claiming it secretly flew three of the CIA's terrorism suspects overseas, where they were tortured.
Mike Pound, a spokesman for Englewood, Colo.-based Jeppesen, said company officials had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment. He said Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, provides support services, rather than the flights themselves.

''We don't know the purpose of the trip for which we do a flight plan,'' Pound said. ''We don't need to know specific details. It's the customer's business, and we do the business that we are contracted for. It's not our practice to ever inquire about the purpose of a trip.''

Chicago-based Boeing itself is not named in the lawsuit.

The cases involve allegations of mistreatment of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen, in July 2002 and January 2004; Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen, in May 2002, and Ahmed Agiza, an Egyptian citizen, in December 2001. Mohamed is being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Britel in Morocco, and Agiza in Egypt, the ACLU said in a news release.

ACLU attorney Ben Wizner said Jeppesen could not have been ignorant of the purpose of CIA flights.

''Either they knew or reasonably should have known that they were facilitating a torture program,'' he said.

Companies ''are not allowed to have their head in the sand and take money from the CIA to fly people, hooded and shackled, to foreign countries to be tortured,'' Wizner said.

The lawsuit charges that Jeppesen knowingly provided direct flight services to the CIA that enabled the clandestine transportation of the men to secret overseas locations. The ACLU claims the men were tortured there and subjected to other ''forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment'' under the agency's ''extraordinary rendition'' program.

The CIA will not be named in the lawsuit; Wizner said the executive branch has evoked a state secrets defense in similar lawsuits. The Bush administration has insisted it receives guarantees from countries receiving terror suspects that prisoners will not be tortured.


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