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Federal appeals court to hear torture lawsuit today

February 9, 2009 |  9:48 am

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments this morning in San Francisco regarding a lawsuit brought by five men who say they were transported by a private company to secret CIA sites, where they were tortured. The Bush administration persuaded a federal judge last year to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that it would reveal state secrets and jeopardize national security.

But the men contend in the lawsuit sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union that the case itself is not a state secret and should be permitted to proceed. A panel of three judges, all appointed by Democrats, of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear arguments beginning at  9 a.m.

The suit was filed against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., which allegedly arranged the transport of the men and carried them to torture destinations.

"Jeppesen was not only providing crucial flight planning and logistical support services to the aircraft and crew -- including filing flight plans, planning itineraries, obtaining landing permits, and arranging for fuel and ground handling -- it was also using its legitimacy as a well-known aviation services company to enable the CIA to disguise the true nature of these flights," the lawsuit said.

-- Maura Dolan and Carol J. Williams