Fact-finder confirms that Arar was tortured

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A report aimed at assessing the credibility of statements made by Ottawa computer engineer, Maher Arar, confirmed that his account of torture received while in Syrian custody is credible. Steven Toope, the court-appointed author of the report wrote, "I am convinced that his description of his treatment in Syria is accurate" and concluded that "Mr. Maher Arar was subjected to torture in Syria".

In September 2002, when returning to Canada from a family trip to Tunisia, Mr. Arar was detained by U.S. officials in New York when transiting through the city's airport. Mr. Arar holds dual citizenship of Canada and Syria and was travelling on his Canadian passport. U.S. authorities decided to deport Mr. Arar to Syria, accusing him of having terrorist connections. He was detained by Syria for more than a year before Canadian authorities managed to arrange his repatriation. During this time he was interrogated and tortured.

According to Canadian Senator Pierre De Bané, U.S. officials first offered to return Mr. Arar to Canada on the condition that Arar would be incarcerated and charged immediately. Canada was unable to accept these conditions as they were not provided with sufficient evidence for the U.S. charges. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not allow for "detention without proper grounds". After being held in New York for eleven days, U.S. officials deported Mr. Arar to Syria, a country with a longstanding history of torture and abuse of its prisoners.