(CN) – The Supreme Court has turned down the appeal of a Canadian engineer who claims U.S. officials mistook him for a terrorist and handed him over to Syrian authorities, who tortured him.
Maher Arar, a dual citizen of Syria and Canada, claims he was detained in 2002 while changing planes at the Kennedy Airport, after Canadian authorities tipped off U.S. officials that he was an alleged member of al Qaida. He said the claims were false.
Arar was allegedly flown by private jet to Syria, despite his requests to be deported to Canada. U.S. officials refused to let him speak to his attorney, family members or the Canadian consulate, he claimed.
Arar said he was kept in a small underground cell for 10 months, and was beaten with a 2-inch thick electric cable.
He sued top U.S. officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, for allegedly conspiring to send him to Syria in order to interrogate him under torture, a practice known as “extraordinary rendition.”
After nearly a year in Syria, he was released without charges and returned to Canada.
The 2nd Circuit ruled 7-4 that rendition issues are best left to other branches of government and not the courts.
“Administrations past and present have reserved the right to employ rendition, and not withstanding prolonged public debate, Congress has not prohibited the practice, imposed limits on its use, or created a cause of action for those who allege they have suffered constitutional injury as a consequence,” Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the majority.
Arar appealed to the Supreme Court, but the justices declined the case without comment, leaving the 2nd Circuit’s ruling intact.