ACLU Asks UN to Investigate Extraordinary Rendition
Friday, June 26, 2009 at 3:43 pm
The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday, along with Alkarama for Human Rights, asked two U.N. special rapporteurs to investigate the “extraordinary rendition,” detention and torture of Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen and one of the victims suing Jeppesen Dataplan, the subsidiary of Boeing the allegedly helped the CIA carry out the Bush administration’s torture outsourcing program.
The last time I wrote about the case of Mohamed v. Jeppesen, the Obama Justice Department was asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear the case, after a three-judge panel of that court refused to dismiss the victims’ claims on the grounds that the lawsuit would allegedly reveal sensitive “state secrets.” (For an excellent piece about the “state secrets” privilege and its dubious origins, listen here to “The Secret Life of Secrets” from last Sunday’s NPR program, This American Life.)
Because the lawsuit has so far been stalled and there’s no other apparent recourse with the U.S. government, the ACLU, which represents the plaintiffs in the Jeppesen case, has asked the U.N. human rights experts to investigate the circumstances surrounding Britel’s arrest, detention and interrogation in Pakistan and his secret transfer to Morocco; his imprisonment there without charge or trial; and his abusive interrogation there.
According to the ACLU, “Britel is one of the few victims of the United States’ “extraordinary rendition” program whose identities are known, and the only European citizen, to our knowledge, still detained. To this day, Britel remains incarcerated in a Moroccan prison.”
Nahal Zamani of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program recently spoke with Britel’s wife, Italian citizen Khadija Anna Lucia Pighizzini, and has posted an excerpt and translation of their conversation here.
It ends with this statement of hope from Pighizzini, which is extraordinary given that her husband has been imprisoned, tortured and abused since 2002, all without any logical explanation:
As for me, I am always tired, and always waiting. It’s been over seven long years since Kassim disappeared. These years have been so painful, but I know that the injustice that I’ve gone through will soon be over. I haven’t given way to hate; nor has Kassim. Instead, we’re waiting for his liberation. We want to live our lives, and to reclaim our rights to live in dignity as citizens and human beings. We look towards to the future; when truth will be heard, when our rights will be restored and when justice will finally be served.
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