Thursday, September 21, 2006

Out of the frying pan and into the fire: the strange tale of Maher Arar

From the online media resource comes this story of failed intelligence and torture.

Canada and the US are refusing to apologize to Maher Arar despite his exoneration by a Canadian government inquiry. The Syrian-born Canadian was detained nearly four years ago by U.S. authorities at JFK airport and was sent to Syria where he was jailed for a year and repeatedly tortured.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to apologize to Maher Arar despite Arar’s exoneration by a federal inquiry. Four years ago, Maher Arar was on his way back to Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia. The Syrian-born Canadian citizen had a stopover at JFK airport in New York. After being questioned at the airport, U.S. officials took him to a New York immigration facility. Two weeks later he was secretly flown to Jordan aboard a Gulfstream Jet. Maher Arar ended up in Syria where he was held in a cell, the size of a grave. He was physically and psychologically tortured. He was forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he has never been. He was released after a year and never charged with a crime.

On Monday, the Canadian government admitted for the first time that Arar was a completely innocent man. Justice Dennis O’Connor, who led the inquiry, said the U.S. government’s decision to send Arar to Syria was likely based on inaccurate and misleading information provided by Canadian authorities.

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that a tremendous injustice had taken place but he declined to apologize to Arar.

(click on the link to see the full transcript of the interview with Maher Arar)

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