NEW YORK (CN) – The 2nd Circuit dismissed the claims of a Canadian engineer who accused U.S. officials of violating his constitutional rights by illegally removing him to Syria, where he was interrogated under torture.
U.S. officials picked up Maher Arar, a dual citizen of Syria and Canada, at the JFK Airport in New York City in 2002, as he was flying from Tunisia to Montreal. Canadian officials had tipped off U.S. authorities that Arar was an “Islamic Extremist individual suspected of being linked to the al Qaida terrorist movement.”
Based on this description – and a review of classified and unclassified information – the regional director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization authorized Arar to be removed to Syria “without further inquiry before an immigration judge.”
After Arar complained of torture in Syria, the Canadian government investigated his case and determined that Canadian officials had been responsible for putting U.S. authorities on the lookout for Arar. In January 2007 Canada paid him $9.75 million to drop his lawsuit against the Canadian government.
Arar next targeted the U.S. officials who had allegedly mistreated him and had him illegally deported with the knowledge that he would be detained and tortured. He accused officials of violating the Torture Victim Protection Act and his Fifth Amendment rights. He also sought a declaration that defendants’ conduct violated his “constitutional, civil and international human rights.”
The appeals court cited two reasons for dismissing each of the petitioner’s claims: Arar failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted and he did not adequately establish federal subject-matter jurisdiction.
As a result, the court did not decide the merits of the case, including whether the Immigration and Nationality Act strips the district court of jurisdiction to hear Arar’s removal-related claims.