US lawmakers apologize to rendition victim Arar

[JURIST] US lawmakers apologized Thursday to Maher Arar [advocacy website; CBC timeline], a Canadian engineer who was detained in the US in 2002 after flying to New York from Tunisia on his way home to Ottawa after a holiday and later deported to Syria, where he was tortured. Appearing by video before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, Arar accepted apologies from Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass) [press release; opening statement, recorded video] and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif) [official website], and reiterated his hope that he would one day receive an official apology from the US government. Rohrabacher expressed his sympathies for Arar, but bluntly said he would oppose any efforts to do away with extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive], which he credited for saving the lives of thousands of US citizens. AP has more.

Canadian intelligence officials suspected that the United States would deport Arar to a country where he could be subject to torture, according to previously censored information released in August by Canada's official Arar Commission [official website], established [JURIST report] in 2004 to trace the events leading to Arar's deportation. The commission later concluded that Canadian officials did not play a role [JURIST report] in the US decision to detain and remove Arar, but said that the US decision was "very likely" based on inaccurate, unfair and overstated information about Arar passed on by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli later publicly apologized to Arar [JURIST report] "for whatever part the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustices that you experienced"; in January this year Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper similarly apologized to Arar [JURIST report] on behalf of the Canadian government.

 

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