US appeals court dismisses Canadian Maher Arar’s lawsuit

Maher Arar cannot sue the United States after being mistaken for a terrorist when he was changing planes in New York a year after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The judges of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7-4 to uphold a decision by a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit brought by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born man who was detained as he tried to switch planes in 2002.

Arar sued the US government and top Justice Department officials, saying the United States purposely sent him to Syria to be tortured days after he was picked up at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a false tip from Canada that he had ties to Islamic extremists. The lawsuit said Arar was allowed to see a lawyer only once despite his repeated efforts to receive representation. Syria has denied he was tortured. The Canadian government agreed to pay him almost $10 million after acknowledging it had passed bad information to U.S. authorities.