The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.,claiming it provided secret CIA transportation services for three terrorism suspects who were tortured under the U.S. government's "extraordinary rendition" program.
The cases involve the alleged 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 currently being held in Guantбnamo Bay, Cuba; Britel in Morocco and Agiza in Egypt, the ACLU said in a statement.
Details of the claims were being released at a Manhattan news conference.
The lawsuit, which the ACLU planned to file Wednesday in the 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, where they were tortured and subjected to other "forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."
"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 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.
Calls and e-mails to spokesmen for Seattle-based Boeing and Englewood, Colorado-based Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, seeking comment on the lawsuit were not immediately returned.