Canada Apologizes to Innocent Arar

Islamonline.net & News Agencies
Fri., Sep. 29, 2006
http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2006-09/29/02.shtml


OTTAWA — Canada's police commissioner apologized
Thursday, September 28, to Maher Arar, a Canadian man
deported by US authorities to Syria and tortured based
on bad Canadian intelligence, but said the United
States shared blame.

Giuliano Zaccardelli, commissioner of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, said he was "truly sorry" for
"the nightmare" Arar experienced and for "whatever
part" the federal police actions "may have contributed
to the terrible injustices" his family endured,
reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"It is true that the early days after 9/11 were
confusing and challenging. Of course this doesn't
excuse or allow us to avoid facing head-on the
ramifications of that time," he told a parliamentary
standing committee on public safety and national
security.

Arar was stopped in September 2002 while he was
traveling through New York, on his way to Canada from
a trip to Tunisia, and was deported to Syria where he
was jailed and tortured for more than a year, said a
Canadian report released mid-September.

The 822-page report, which cleared Arar of terrorism
ties, stated that US authorities had likely relied on
faulty intelligence provided by Canadian police to
hold and deport the 36-year-old software engineer to
Syria.

The Mounties (Canadian police) had provided
"inaccurate" information to US authorities saying Arar
was an "Islamic extremist" linked to Osama bin Laden's
Al-Qaeda group.

Deaf Ears

Zaccardelli said Thursday, US authorities were advised
of the mistake while Arar was still in US custody in
New York, but Canadian appeals fell on deaf ears.

"When Mr Arar was in New York City, we clearly
communicated with the Americans that there was false
information there and we tried to correct that false
information," he testified.

"I have no information, no indication as to why the
Americans took the decision ... to detain him and send
him to Syria," he said.

"We have attempted to get that information. We have
not gotten that," despite closer US-Canada security
ties since 2002, he later told reporters.

Zaccardelli testified on Thursday that he did not know
definitively during Arar's detention whether he was
involved or not in terrorist activities, when asked
why he did not publicly defend Arar.

But, the Mounties are no longer investigating Arar or
his family, he added.

In Canada, the case sparked a public outcry.

"Many thoughtful people have been struggling with the
question of what is the appropriate role of a modern
day police force," noted Zaccardelli.

"It is a terrible truth that we have had to
acknowledge, that in the pursuit of justice against
those who would destroy our way of life, innocent
people can be swept up in our search to find those who
might harm us. It happened in this instance," he said.

Arar, who sued the Canadian government for 400 million
Canadian dollars (360 million US) after his return in
2003.

He also lamented on US television that US authorities
had still not acknowledged their role in his ordeal.

Last week, Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell
Day said Arar had been removed from Canada's security
watch list and US Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff was asked to do the same in the United
States.

Day testified Thursday that three similar cases
involving Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati
and Muayyed Nureddin would be reviewed.

Each claimed to have been detained, interrogated and
tortured by Syrian Military Intelligence based on
information that originated in Canada. 





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