Extraordinary Rendition - Example Cases - Maher Arar Case

Maher Arar Case

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born dual Syrian and Canadian citizen, was detained at Kennedy International Airport on 26 September 2002, by US Immigration and Naturalization Service officials. He was heading home to Canada after a family holiday in Tunisia. After almost two weeks, enduring hours of interrogation chained, he was sent, shackled and bound, in a private jet to Jordan and then Syria, instead of being deported to Canada. There, he was interrogated and tortured by Syrian intelligence. Maher Arar was eventually released a year later. He told the BBC that he was repeatedly tortured during 10 months' detention in Syria—often whipped on the palms of his hands with metal cables. Syrian intelligence officers forced him to sign a confession linking him to Al Qaeda. He was finally released following intervention by the Canadian government. The Canadian government lodged an official complaint with the US government protesting Arar's deportation. On 18 September 2006, a Canadian public enquiry presented its findings entirely clearing Arar of any terrorist activities. In 2004 Arar filed a lawsuit in a federal court in New York against senior U.S. officials, on charges that whoever sent him to Syria knew he would be tortured by intelligence agents. US Attorney General John Ashcroft, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and FBI Director Robert Mueller are all named in the lawsuit. On 18 October 2006, Arar received the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies for his ordeal. On 18 October 2007, Maher Arar received a public apology from the U.S. House of Representatives. Nevertheless, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who also apologized, stated that he would fight any efforts to end the practice. Arar received $10.5 million in compensation from the Canadian government for pain and suffering in his ordeal and a formal apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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