Friday, January 26, 2007

Arar to receive $10.5 million settlement - Canada Apologizes

Kudos to the Government of Canada for acknowledging its role in the blunders that led to the wrongful deportation, imprisonment and torture in Syria of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen.

From Yahoo news today:

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada apologized to Maher Arar and his family on Friday and said it would compensate him C$10.5 million ($8.9 million) for its role in his deportation by the United States to what he said was a year of repeated torture in a Syrian jail.

U.S. officials deported the Syrian-born Canadian citizen after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said he was an Islamic extremist, but an official Canadian inquiry said there was no evidence he was linked to terrorism.

The deportation has become a sore spot in relations between Canada and the United States, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper renewed his call for Washington to remove Arar from its security watch list as he announced the settlement.

"On behalf of the government of Canada, I wish to apologize to you, Monia Mazigh (Arar's wife) and your family for any role Canadian officials may have played in the terrible ordeal that all of you experienced in 2002 and 2003," Harper said in a letter of apology which he read at a news conference.

... In Washington, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a statement saying he was seeking answers as chairman of the Senate judiciary committee as to why Arar was sent to Syria.

"The question remains why. Even if there were reasons to consider him suspicious, the U.S. Government shipped him to Syria where he was tortured, instead of to Canada for investigation or prosecution," Leahy said.

The U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, said this week that it was presumptuous of Ottawa to try to determine whom the United States would put on its security watch list, but Harper said he would keep up the pressure.

"We will not drop the matter ... just because we disagree and they don't like hearing our position," Harper countered.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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