[JURIST] US District Judge James Ware of the US District Court for the Northern District of California heard arguments Tuesday on the government's motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan [corporate website] on state secrets grounds. The Justice Department argued that the lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union over Jeppesen's alleged role in the CIA's extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] program, poses a risk to national security. The ACLU argued against the motion [press release], saying that since the rendition program is already made public, national security concerns are outweighed. The government has asserted similar state secrets claims in other national security cases. Ware did not decide on the motion to dismiss at Tuesday's hearing, but said he would issue a written opinion shortly.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] last May, alleging that Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing, knowingly supported direct flights to secret CIA prisons, facilitating the torture and mistreatment of US detainees. The ACLU alleges that Jeppesen played a key role in the extraordinary rendition flights by providing a number of vital services including itinerary, route, weather, and fuel planning, as well as obtaining over-flight and landing permits from foreign governments. The ACLU was originally representing three of the five plaintiffs: Muhammad, currently being detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], Elkassim Britel, currently in a Moroccan prison, and Agiza, currently in an Egyptian prison. The two additional plaintiffs, who have alleged they were kidnapped by the CIA and tortured in Afghanistan, joined the lawsuit [JURIST report] in August. AP has more.