Friday, June 6, 2008
A new report makes it clear that a high-level decision was made to send Maher Arar to a country where he was likely to be tortured, one of his lawyers said Friday.
Maria LaHood hailed a report by Richard Skinner, chief of internal investigations at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as important for “truth and accountability.” Skinner said on Thursday he was reopening the investigation into the Canadian man’s deportation to Syria in 2002.
“The most interesting thing is that the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Services] knew that Maher was going to be tortured or was likely to be tortured if he was sent to Syria – yet the decision to send him to Syria was made anyway,” LaHood told CBC News.
“In fact, the decision was made before Maher was questioned about his fears of being sent to Syria, before the INS received so-called assurances – and those assurances, the inspector general found, were ambiguous and were never even assessed by the INS.
Maher Arar, who had immigrated to Canada from Syria as a teenager, was detained in September 2002 as he tried to change planes at JFK airport in New York.Maher Arar, who had immigrated to Canada from Syria as a teenager, was detained in September 2002 as he tried to change planes at JFK airport in New York. (CBC)
“So it’s clear, as we’ve alleged, that this was a top-down decision and that Maher’s torture was expected, and we say, intended,” LaHood said.
Last year, the Canadian government apologized to Arar, who now lives in Kamloops, B.C., and agreed to pay him almost $10 million in compensation.
The Bush administration continues to bar Arar from entering the U.S., citing classified information.
Full Story | See Also: Bid to Block Afghan Detainee Inquiry Slammed | CSIS suspected U.S. would deport Arar to be tortured: documents | What Ottawa doesn’t want you to know: Government was told detainees faced ‘extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial’