June 14, 2010 / 2:52 PM / in 7 years

Top U.S. court rejects Maher Arar's torture suit appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court let stand on Monday the dismissal of a lawsuit by a Canadian man against U.S. government officials for sending him to Syria, where he says he was tortured.

<p>Maher Arar pauses during a news conference in Ottawa in this January 26, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The court rejected an appeal by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born software engineer who was detained by U.S. officials in 2002 at a New York airport while on his way home to Canada. He then was sent to Syria because of suspected links to al Qaeda.

Arar says he was imprisoned in Syria for a year and tortured. He filed a lawsuit in 2004 in New York federal court against then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and other U.S. officials and seeking unspecified money damages.

A U.S. appeals court last year upheld a federal judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that Arar did not have legal standing to sue and that Congress has not authorized such lawsuits.

The Obama administration last month urged the Supreme Court to reject Arar’s appeal seeking to reinstate his lawsuit. It said the case presented three narrow questions and that they all had been correctly decided by the appeals court.

Without any comment, the justices sided with the administration, declined to review the appeals court’s decision and denied Arar’s appeal.

The Canadian government formally apologized to Arar in 2007 and paid him a C$10.5 million ($9.8 million) settlement.

($1 = C$1.02)

Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Eric Walsh

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