Canadian torture victim Ahmad El Maati demands apology

The actions of Canadian spies and apparent indifference to the fate of trucker Ahmad El Maati “likely contributed indirectly” to his torture, writes former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci.

The comments come in a once-secret supplement to Iacobucci’s 2008 report on the overseas imprisonment and torture of El Maati and two other Arab-Canadian men in cases eerily reminiscent to that of Maher Arar. The supplemental report was released after federal objections to its disclosure were “resolved” following more than a year of legal wrangling about whether national security would be harmed.

The report raises new concerns about how, in the post-9/11 era, Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials chucked aside human rights in their zeal to safeguard national security.

El Maati, who said he was repeatedly questioned on what he says were false confessions induced under torture in Syria, had been transferred to Egypt in January 2002 after a two-month detention in Syria. El Maati says he bears the physical and psychological scars of Egyptian interrogations. CSIS admitted to Iacobucci that it was aware of El Maati’s claims of mistreatment in Syria, and considered the possibility that further Canadian questioning could provoke more trouble for him in Egypt.

Lacobucci says there was a hands-off approach to the issue of torture by the anti-terror agencies. El Maati’s plight and that of the two other men – Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin – is remarkably similar to that of Arar. Like Arar, the three men, who deny any involvement in terrorism, were all abused in Syrian prisons. The three men are now suing the Canadian government. The federal Conservative government settled with Arar for $10.5 million in compensation. But it has yet to apologize to the other three.

Canadian House of Commons votes for apology to Muslims tortured abroad

A majority in the House of Commons says the Canadian government must apologize for the torture ordeals of three Muslim-Canadian men detained in Middle East jails and immediately overhaul the country’s national security review regime. The New Democratic Party brought a motion to have the full Commons endorse a June parliamentary committee report that urged the government to implement recommendations from two earlier judicial inquiries.

The committee had examined the government responses to inquires by Justice Dennis O’Connor into the Maher Arar scandal, and Justice Frank Iacobucci into the detentions abroad of three other men who were tortured in Syrian or Egyptian jails.

The Conservative government has already apologized to Maher Arar, and awarded him $10.5 million in compensation after O’Connor found he was deported to torture in Syria largely because of faulty Canadian intelligence. While there were similar findings of inflammatory labelling by Iacobucci in the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, the government has denied liability in civil lawsuits filed by the men.

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.

Probe into Maher Arar Torture Case Closed

Canadian federal police (the RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police), has closed its investigation into the source of the damaging leaks to the media about Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen deported to Syria by U.S. officials because of false allegations of terrorism. This statement marks the end of a five-year criminal investigation to examine how inaccurate information claiming Arar was an Islamic extremist was leaked by government sources to the media. The source of the leak could not be determined. In 2007, Arar received $10.5 million CAD in compensation from the Canadian government. The U.S. government has not apologized and keeps his name on a security watch list.

In an interview with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli stated that in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, the Bush administration “threw out the rule book” when it came to cooperating with its allies.

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The National Post

US Appeals Court to Rehear Maher Arar´s Torture Case

A US federal appeals court will reconsider its decision with regards to a Canadian engineer’s lawsuit over torture he endured following being falsely mistaken for an Islamic extremist. The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan was, according to the International Herald Tribune, unusual because the circuit assembles for a case but once or twice a year and because Maher Arar’s attorneys had yet to request a full hearing. The Syrian-born, Ottawa, Canada-resident was detained in 2002 after switching planes at JFK International Airport as he returned to Canada. Arar, 37, spent nearly a year in prison being tortured prior to being returned to Canada without charges. The Canadian government agreed to pay him almost $10 million and acknowledged it passed incorrect information regarding Arar’s participation with al-Qaeda to U.S. authorities. Arguments are scheduled for December 9th.

See full-text articles:

International Herald Tribune

The National Post

The National Post

US Appeals Court to Rehear Maher Arar’s Torture Case

A US federal appeals court will reconsider its decision with regards to a Canadian engineer’s lawsuit over torture he endured following being falsely mistaken for an Islamic extremist. The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan was, according to the International Herald Tribune, unusual because the circuit assembles for a case but once or twice a year and because Maher Arar’s attorneys had yet to request a full hearing. The Syrian-born, Ottawa, Canada-resident was detained in 2002 after switching planes at JFK International Airport as he returned to Canada. Arar, 37, spent nearly a year in prison being tortured prior to being returned to Canada without charges. The Canadian government agreed to pay him almost $10 million and acknowledged it passed incorrect information regarding Arar’s participation with al-Qaeda to U.S. authorities. Arguments are scheduled for December 9th.