ACLU suing subsidiary of Boeing
Group claims Jeppesen Dataplan enabled CIA torture activities overseas
By Pat Milton
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK — 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.
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; Britel in Morocco; and Agiza in Egypt, the ACLU said in a news release.
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.”
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.
Chicago-based Boeing itself is not named in the lawsuit. Boeing spokesman Tim Neale said company officials typically don’t comment on lawsuits and had not seen this one, nor would it confirm the allegations that Jeppesen provided services to the CIA. Jeppesen has a confidentiality clause with all its customers, he said.
The lawsuit, which the ACLU said it would file Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 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.
“American corporations should not be profiting from a CIA rendition program that is unlawful and contrary to core American values,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Corporations that choose to participate in such activity can and should be held legally accountable.”
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.
The lawsuit involves a branch of the company called Jeppesen International Trip Planning, which the ACLU calls a “main provider of flight and logistical support services for aircraft used by the CIA in the U.S. government’s extraordinary rendition program.”
The ACLU said its lawsuit was being filed under the Alien Tort Statute, which permits aliens to bring claims in the United States for violations of the law of nations or a United States treaty. It said the statute recognizes international norms accepted among civilized nations that are violated by acts such as enforced disappearance, torture and other inhuman treatment.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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