Binyam Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit & US Supreme Court

Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah and Bisher Al-Rawi filed a lawsuit in the courts of the United States against Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Company.  The central claim in the case is that they had been subjected to the ‘extraordinary rendition’ by the United States and that Jeppesen DataPlan had knowingly participated in these renditions by providing critical flight planning and logistical support services to aircraft and crews used by the CIA.  

In February 2008 the district court dismissed the case after the Executive invoked the ‘states secrets privilege’.  The  five men appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit at which point REDRESS and the International Commission of Jurists submitted an amicus curiae brief arguing that the ‘state secrets’ privilege cannot be used to bar access to justice in cases in which torture and other serious human rights violations are alleged.  In April 2009, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court dismissal of the case, finding that the state secrets privilege can only be invoked with respect to specific evidence, and remanded the case back to the district court.  The US Executive then asked the Court of Appeals to rehear the case en banc with a full panel of 11 judges.  This was granted in October 2009 and REDRESS resubmitted its amicus curiae brief for consideration by the en banc panel.  On 8 September 2010, the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit.

On 7 December 2010 the plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, asking it to consider whether the Court of Appeals had erred in affirming the dismissal of the suit at the pleading stage on the basis of the state secrets doctrine.

On 12 January 2011, REDRESS joined an amici curiae brief filed with the Supreme Court in support of the certiorari petition. On 17 May 2011, the Supreme Court refused to review the dismissal of the case.


Photo credit: BBC

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