[Vision2020] Innocent Man Sent to Syria and Tortured

Joe Campbell joekc at adelphia.net
Tue Sep 19 20:07:04 PDT 2006

Careful, Ted! You don't want anyone to think that you're supporting terrorists with this post, do you?

Best, Joe

---- Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com> wrote: 


Innocent Man Sent to Syria and Tortured, Probe Finds
Canadian Report Faults Mounties, U.S. for Deportation

TORONTO (Sept. 19) - The United States "very likely" sent a Canadian
software engineer to Syria, where he was tortured, based on the false
accusation by Canadian authorities that he was suspected of links to
al-Qaida, according to a new government report.

Syrian-born Maher Arar was exonerated of all suspicion of terrorist activity
by the 2 1/2-year commission of inquiry into his case, which urged the
Canadian government to offer him financial compensation. Arar is perhaps the
world's best-known case of extraordinary rendition -- the U.S. transfer of
foreign terror suspects to third countries without court approval.

"I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that
Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constitute a
threat to the security of Canada," Justice Dennis O'Connor said Monday in a
three-volume report on the findings of the inquiry, part of which was made

Arar was traveling on a Canadian passport when he was detained at New York's
Kennedy Airport on Sept. 26, 2002, on his way home from vacation in Tunisia.

Arar said U.S. authorities sent him to Syria for interrogation as a
suspected member of al-Qaida, a link he denied.

He spent nearly a year in prison in Syria and made detailed allegations
after his release in 2003 about extensive interrogation, beatings and
whippings with electrical cables.

O'Connor criticized the U.S. and recommended that Ottawa file formal
protests with both Washington and the Syrian government over Arar's

"The American authorities who handled Mr. Arar's case treated Mr. Arar in a
most regrettable fashion," O'Connor wrote. "They removed him to Syria
against his wishes and in the face of his statements that he would be
tortured if sent there. Moreover, they dealt with Canadian officials
involved with Mr. Arar's case in a less than forthcoming manner."

The U.S. is already under intense criticism from human rights groups over
the practice of sending suspects to countries where they could be tortured.

U.S. and Syrian officials refused to cooperate with the Canadian inquiry.

The commission found the Royal Canadian Mounted Police shared information
about Arar with American anti-terrorist agencies both before and after he
was detained.

The RCMP asked the U.S. to put Arar on a watch list as an "Islamic extremist
individual" suspected of links to the al-Qaida terrorist movement, the
report said.

The request was issued after Arar met with another man who was under
surveillance, a meeting Arar has said was about how to find inexpensive
computer equipment.

"The RCMP had no basis for this description, which had the potential to
create serious consequences for Mr. Arar in light of American attitudes and
practices," the report said.

The RCMP described Arar as the "target" of a domestic anti-terrorist
investigation in Canada when in fact he was a peripheral figure who had come
under suspicion only because he had been seen in the company of the man who
was under surveillance, the report found.

O'Connor said that much of the material shared with U.S. authorities had not
been double-checked to ensure its accuracy and reliability -- a violation of
the RCMP's usual rules for divulging information to foreign agencies.

O'Connor concluded that the inaccurate information passed by Canadian police
to U.S. authorities "very likely" led to their decision to send Arar to

"It's quite clear that the RCMP sent inaccurate information to U.S.
officials," Arar said at a news conference in Ottawa. "I would have not have
even been sent to Syria had this information not been given to them."

"I have waited a long time to have my name cleared. I was tortured and lost
a year of my life. I will never be the same," Arar said. "The United States
must take responsibility for what it did to me and must stop destroying more
innocent lives with its unlawful actions."

The commission concluded there was no evidence Canadian officials
participated in or agreed to the decision to send Arar to Syria. But
O'Connor recommended that in the future, information should never be
provided to a foreign country where there is a credible risk that it will
cause or contribute to the use of torture.

Most of the judge's 23 policy recommendations centered on the RCMP and
emphasized the need to improve the force's internal policies for national
security investigations and the sharing of information with other countries.

Arar's case has been regularly featured on the front pages of Canadian
newspapers and public outcry led to the government calling an inquiry.
Canada's federal government established the inquiry in 2004 to determine the
role Canadian officials played.

O'Connor also found "troubling questions" about the role played by Canadian
officials in the cases of three other Canadians of Arab descent -- Ahmad El
Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin. All claim they were tortured
in Syria after traveling there on personal business, and all suspect that
the RCMP, Canadian intelligence or both collaborated with their captors.

O'Connor said he could not get to the bottom of those cases because of the
limited nature of his mandate. But he urged the government to appoint an
independent investigator -- something short of a full-fledged public inquiry
-- to look into those cases.

O'Connor sifted through thousands of pages of documents and sat through
testimony from more than 40 witnesses. He delivered two versions of his
report to the government: one classified, the other public. But portions of
even the public edition of the long-awaited document were withheld due to
security concerns.

9/19/2006 06:23:35


Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

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