An American federal court of appeal ruled this week that Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, cannot sue the United States government and its officials because Congress has not authorized these types of law suits. Mr. Arar was attempting to sue those within the United States government who were involved with his arrest and deportation to Syria, where he was tortured on the assumption that he was a member of the al Qaeda terrorist network. In a 7-4 ruling, the court decided that Mr. Arar could not sue those who were specifically involved with his rendition, and were he to be awarded any sort of damages it would have to come from Congress.
The case has been followed closely by the international media as well as human rights NGOs and advocates because it surrounds the United States government’s policy of extraordinary rendition. This policy allowed government agents to arrest terrorism suspects and have them deported to states where torture and coercive interrogation laws are ambiguous or non-existent. Mr. Arar has successfully cleared his name in Canada, and was awarded $10.5 million in damages . He is still seeking to clear his name in the United States. His lawyer said that his client has yet to consider the option of appealing the decision to the American Supreme Court.
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