US top court won't hear appeal in CIA torture case

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WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) A German citizen who claimed he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA today lost his appeal when the Supreme Court refused to review a decision dismissing the case because it would expose state secrets.

Attorneys for Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent, argued in the high court appeal that his lawsuit did not depend on the disclosure of state secrets and that it should be allowed to go forward in US court.

His case has drawn worldwide attention to the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, in which terrorism suspects are sent from one foreign nation to another for interrogation. Human rights groups have strongly criticized the program.

Masri's case sparked outrage in Germany and prompted a parliamentary inquiry to find out what authorities might have known about U.S. renditions.

Masri's attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union challenged what they called the Bush administration's increased invoking of national security secrets to prevent any judicial inquiry into serious allegations of misconduct.

The administration also has asserted the so-called state secrets privilege in an effort to dismiss the lawsuits over the warrantless domestic spying program that Bush created after the September 11 attacks.

Masri's allegations have been widely reported by the news media.

''The central facts of this case are not state secrets and do not become so simply because the government insists otherwise,'' Ben Wizner of the ACLU wrote in the appeal.

Masri's lawsuit, which sought damages of at least 75,000 dollars, was brought against former CIA Director George Tenet, three private aviation companies and 20 unnamed employees of the CIA and the companies.

The Supreme Court sided with the administration and rejected the appeal without any explanation or recorded dissent.

Reuters SG DB2002

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