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Secretary of State Rice Admits U.S. Government Mishandled Rendition of Maher Arar

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Contact: Jen Nessel, 212.614.6449, jnessel@ccr-ny.org

October 24, 2007, Washington, DC – According to press reports, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted during a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing today that the U.S. government mishandled the rendition of Center for Constitutional Rights client and Canadian citizen Maher Arar, saying, “I do not think this case was handled as it should have been. We do absolutely not wish to transfer anyone to any place in which they might be tortured.”

Maher Arar is not available to comment in person, but is issuing the following statement:

“I am pleased that the U.S. administration has taken the encouraging step of acknowledging that my case was mishandled. I fully support the very important work of the congressional committees which are trying to get to the bottom of the extraordinary rendition program.”

During last Thursday’s joint House Committee hearing on Maher’s rendition, members of Congress publicly apologized for the government’s role in sending him to Syria. While Secretary Rice did not apologize for Maher’s rendition, nor did she explain why Maher was sent by the U.S. to Syria to be interrogated and tortured, CCR attorney Maria LaHood said, “Maher has been seeking justice for a long time, and answers to why he was sent to Syria – we are grateful that Congress is seeking those answers. We hope that Secretary Rice’s acknowledgement is the start of what will be a full admission and apology from the Administration, and that they will allow his case to proceed in court, and allow him to resume a normal life.”

CCR’s case representing Maher Arar will have oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on November 9.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.