Wednesday, November 19, 2003

CANADA GAVE INFORMATION ON ARAR

Solicitor General Wayne Easter met with U.S Attorney General John Ashcroft today. The deportation of Arar was not officially on the agenda but it was discussed and the topic was the focus of the news conference afterwards. Articles from the The Toronto Star and Washington Post have more on the story.

After the meeting Mr. Easter admitted that some of the information used against Mr. Arar when he was detained for ten days without charge in New York did originate from Canadian sources. Mr. Easter did not say specifically what the information was or how it was obtained.

Mr. Easter then had this to add:

"Part of the reason for the discussion is to try to negate the fact that these kinds of things can happen," said Easter. "What we're trying to do is look forward."

What?! I really hope that this comment from the minister means that the government does not want this kind of thing to happen again. But a cynic might interpret it to mean that the government wants to erase the memory of this deportation and just focus on the future of Canadian and American relations... until the next time someone is deported.

The Post article indicates that then-Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson, in his capacity as acting attorney general, signed the highly unusual order to deport Arar to Syria, citing national security and declaring that to send Arar, home to Canada would be "prejudicial to the interests of the United States,"

This was the first thing he said. It was not until later that he felt the need to claim no U.S laws were broken, which is the position that was maintained by Mr. Ashcroft today.

The Post goes on to note:

The U.S. immigration law used to carry out the "expedited removal" of Arar strictly prohibits sending anyone, even on national security grounds, to a country where "it is more likely than not that they will be tortured," said a U.S. official familiar with the law applied in the Arar case.

Mr. Arar has said repeatedly that he told American officials that he feared being tortured if he was sent to Syria. The Justice Departement has refused to comment on why Arar's extradition order to Syria would have been signed by the Deputy Attorney General if Arar made such protestations.

The Post article also quotes an unnamed U.S officail who claimed that Arar had the names of "a large number of known al Qaeda operatives, affiliates or associates" in his wallet or pockets.

Tonight on CBC Radio news at 6:00, Mr. Arar's Canadian lawyer denied that there was any truth at all to these allegations.

The evidence is mounting. The RCMP complaints commission is clearly not doing enough. We need a public inquiry.

Posted by Matthew @ 6:22 PM