August 1, 2007 / 7:36 PM / 12 years ago

Iraqi, Yemeni men join lawsuit over CIA flights

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two men who say they were flown by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to secret overseas prisons where they were interrogated and tortured joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit on Wednesday.

A Romanian soldier walks on the tarmac next to a MiG 29 aircraft at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase 155 miles east of Bucharest, December 19, 2005. The airbase was indicated by Human Rights Watch as a possible location for a covert prison allegedly used by the CIA in Romania to interrogate terrorist suspects. Two men who say they were flown by the Central Intelligence Agency to secret overseas prisons where they were interrogated and tortured joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit on Wednesday. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

The ACLU filed the original complaint in May, accusing Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a unit of Boeing Co., of providing flight and logistical support to at least 15 aircraft on 70 so-called “extraordinary-rendition” flights.

The ACLU said on Wednesday long-term British resident and Iraqi citizen Bisher al-Rawi, 39, and Yemeni citizen Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, 38, had joined the complaint.

In December 2002 al-Rawi was stripped, dressed in a diaper, shackled, blindfolded and flown from Banjul, Gambia, where he was traveling for business, to Kabul in Afghanistan, the suit said. He was interrogated and tortured in a U.S.-run facility known as the “Dark Prison” before being transferred to the Bagram Air Base, it said.

“I was terrified,” al-Rawi said in an ACLU news release. He was transferred to the prison camp run by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in February 2003 before being returned to his home in England four years later.

The suit said that in October 2003 Bashmilah was taken into custody in Jordan, where he was visiting his mother, before the Jordanian government handed him over to the CIA who beat him then blindfolded him, dressed him in a diaper and flew him to Kabul.

Bashmilah said he was interrogated and tortured for six months at the Bagram Air Base before being transferred to a separate detention facility in an unknown country. He has said he attempted to commit suicide three times. He was eventually flown in May 2005 back to Yemen, where he was detained and released after nine months.

The lawsuit, first filed on May 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, originally cited the cases of British resident Binyam Mohamed, Italian resident Abou Elkassim Britel and Egyptian citizen Ahmed Agiza.

The amended complaint said Jeppesen’s alleged cooperation included that the company “falsified flight plans to European air traffic control authorities to avoid public scrutiny of CIA flights.” It cited a report from the Council of Europe.

A spokesman for Jeppesen was not immediately available for comment. Washington acknowledges the secret transfer of suspects to third countries but denies torturing them or handing them over to countries that did.

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