Maher Arar
Thu Sep 21, 2006 01:33

this is rather old, but just back in the news.
if you havent read this , i suggest it highly...


On Sept. 26, 2002, Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, traveling on a Canadian passport departed Tunis where he was vacationing with his family, on a flight to Montreal via Zurich and New York. He was detained by the the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during a stopover in New York. Officials from the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say they will question him and then let him catch his connecting flight to Montreal. Arar asks for a lawyer, and is told he [WWW]has no right to a lawyer because he is not an American citizen.

Arar continues to ask for a lawyer and phone call, and his requests are denied. He is questioned repeatedly in intense interrogations that last up to 8 hours at a time. Finally after 6 days he is permitted to make a two minute telephone call to his mother-in-law in Ottawa. He tells her he is frightened and he might be deported to Syria, and asks her to get him a lawyer. He is denied consular access for 10 days, and after which he finally receives a visit from Canadian consul Maureen Girvan. Arar shows her the document he has been given, and she notes the contents. He tells her he is frightened of being deported to Syria, and she reassures him that this will not happen.

On October 5, Arar is visited by an immigration lawyer hired by the Arar family, Amal Oummih. They talk for 30 minutes, and he relates his fears to her, and asks her to help. She advises him not to sign anything without her being present. The next day at 9:00 p.m., guards come to take Arar from his cell, and lie to him saying that his attorney is there to see him. Arar is taken to a room where about seven officials are waiting. His attorney is not there; instead he is questioned by 7 officials until 3 a.m.

Two days layer, October 8, 2002 Arar is woken at 3:00 a.m. and is told he is leaving. The Americans claim he is a member of an organization that has been designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist organization, to wit Al Qaeda aka Al Qa'ida. At 3 o'clock in the morning, Arar is deported on a private jet on which he is the sole passenger, to Syria via Jordan, in flagrant violation of international and American law:

* American law requires he be deported to the country of his choosing, or to the country of last transit (Switzerland).

* International law requires that he not be deported to a country where he is at risk of being tortured.1
* American law strictly prohibits sending people -- even on national security grounds -- to a country where it is likely they will be tortured, and Syria is on the State Department's list of countries known to use torture. 2

When his lawyer goes back to arrange a meeting with his client, the INS say he isn't there, but won't say where he is. The Americans officials had refused even to acknowledge to Mr. Arar's immigration attorney, or to the Canadian Consulate staff person who visited Mr. Arar in detention in NYC, that Mr. Arar had been removed to Syria. The American ambassador to Canada, [WWW]a political appointee not a career diplomat, was asked about Arar at a news conference. He showed that he is well qualified to represent the Bush Administration, for his reply was:

"That's a local problem."

Although Canadians could not figure out what the ambassador meant, they were very clear what the United States was saying.

In response, the Government of Canada issued an unprecedented travel advisory for Canadians to reconsider any travel to the United States if they have dual-nationality, and prominent Canadians, including Members of Parliament, say publically that they will no longer travel to the USA.

For two weeks nobody in Canada can find out what happened to Arar. Arar is repeatedly tortured in Syria, where he has been confined in a 3 foot by 6 foot cell with no light, that Arar referred to as "the grave". In between torture sessions he is kept in a room where he can hear others being tortured. Finally after 14 days, Arar is granted Canadian consular access in Syria.

After almost a year of unrelenting pressure by Arar's wife Monia, Arar was finally released by Syria, who's Ambassador to the United States said in a [WWW] CBC Radio interview that they finally released him because Syrian officials "could not substantiate any of the allegations against him".

On October 5 2003 he returned to Canada, and was greeted at the airport by his family, journalists and many well-wishers. He had little to say in public, and spent a month quietly with his family.

In a stunning news conference held in Ottawa on [WWW] November 4, 2003, in front of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maher described [WWW] what they did to him. With his wife at his side, carried live on national television, he concluded by saying:

What is at stake here is the future of our country, the interests of Canadian citizens, and most importantly Canada's international reputation for being a leader in human rights where citizens from different ethnic groups are treated no different than other Canadians.

Later on CBC national radio he unequivocally charged that the Americans sent him to Syria to be tortured. The Americans own Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001 released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the State Department [WWW] says of Syria:

Continuing serious abuses include the use of torture in detention; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged detention without trial; fundamentally unfair trials in the security courts; an inefficient judiciary that suffers from corruption and, at times, political influence; and infringement on privacy rights.

In their [WWW] 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the State Dept. says:

Although it occurs in prisons, torture was most likely to occur while detainees were being held at one of the many detention centers run by the various security services throughout the country, especially while the authorities were attempting to extract a confession or information.

When pressed for an explanation by Canadians, the US Ambassador to Canada refused to appear before a parliamentary committee, and said he [WWW] can't guarantee other Canadians won't face the same fate as Maher Arar. This has led to calls for a boycott of travel and tourism to the United States.

Through the details Arar provided is became clear that the US authorities had been provided information gathered in Canada by either the RCMP3 or CSIS4, provoking widespread outrage in Canada, and demands for a public inquiry. On the same radio show that broadcast an interview with Arar and his wife, noted human rights lawyer and Member of Parliament (now Minister of Justice) Irwin Cotler said that the decision to deport Arar was made by [WWW] the "Shadow Government".

Maher Arar [WWW]is now suing Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Director of the FBI Reobert Mueller as well as other U.S. officials for sending him to be tortured in Syria. The highly respected [WWW]Center For Constitutional Rights are representing him in this case. Clearly, Canadians stepping foot into the United States will be treated like Aliens, as Maher Arar found out; Maher's treatment was not because of the 9/11 FraudulentLegislation like the PatriotAct, but rather was a straight-forward consequence of him being an Alien, a non-US citizen.

In a stunning move, the RCMP [WWW] raided the home and office of Juliet O'Neill a respected and veteran reporter from the [WWW] Ottawa Citizen. The RMCP seized all her notes and computers, looking for the source of a leak from within the RCMP for a story she had run an November 8th, 2003. The [WWW] warrants for the raid were obtained under the Security of Information Act, a part of the FraudulentLegislation introduced after 9/11 as the Canadian implmentation of the PatriotAct, which replaced the already Draconian Official Secrets Act and expanded its definition of a secret. O'Neill had reported that the [WWW]a leaked document from the RCMP had details of what Arar allegedly revealed to Syrian intelligence agents under torture, which means that Arar may have been tortured to get information for American and Canadian secret police. For reporting that, she now faces the prospect up to 14 years in jail if charged under the Security of Information Act.

In response to the uproar caused by the raid on the reporter's house and office, the government of Canada has bowed to public pressure and called a [WWW] Royal Commission of Inquiry to determine whether Canada's law enforcement agencies were responsible for the deportation and torture Arar. Royal Commissions are very rare in Canada, and can be quite open and thorough: the Mac Donald Commission into wrongdoing by the RCMP let it it being stripped of all responsibility for national security, and the formation of a new agency for spying called CSIS.

Justice Dennis O'Connor, who is well respected for his investigation of the tainted water scandal at Walkerton, will head the inquiry. The [WWW] Royal Commission [WWW] may shed light on how the Shadow Government operates on both sides of the border.

(!) See our page: FightThePower, an interview with Maher Arar.
Arar Maher

United States: Alleged Transfer of Maher Arar to Syria
Letter to Department of Defense General Counsel Haynes

They Put a Bag Over My Head & Flew Me To Syria for Torture and Interrogation
This is What They Did to Me

Main Page - Thursday, 09/28/06

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