Arar irony

From Cursor, we read of this irony

Although Time may have named George W. Bush its choice for Person Of the Year, in Time's Canadian edition the Newsmaker of the Year is torture victim Maher Arar.

Arar sounds like he really got screwed, FWM**....

Arar was pulled aside while passing through J.F.K. after a vacation in Tunisia, where most of his wife’s family lives. He was detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where he says U.S. authorities questioned him for 10 days. Then, in the middle of the night, he was put into shackles and spirited away via Jordan to Syria, a country he hadn’t been to in 16 years— despite the fact that he was a naturalized Canadian citizen traveling on a Canadian passport en route to Canada.

Arar ended up in a dark, 1-m by 2-m cell he calls the “grave” in the Syrian military intelligence agency’s Palestine branch in Damascus. He was held there without charge for 10 months and 10 days. During his first two weeks, he claims, he was interrogated about people he had known in Canada, sometimes for 18 hours at a time, and tortured. One punishment, he says, was repeated lashings with a 5-cm black metal cable on his palms, wrists, lower back and hips. The mental ordeal was also brutal, he said in November 2003 at one of the most dramatic press conferences ever televised in Canada. “The second and third days were the worst,” he told the world that day. “I could hear other prisoners being tortured, and screaming.” During his first week in prison, he says, he falsely confessed that he had received military training in Afghanistan.

Many would have crumbled emotionally under such duress, but Arar hung tough. Finally, almost a year later, on Oct. 5, 2003, the Syrians released him, saying publicly that they considered him “completely innocent.” When Arar made it back to Canada, Amnesty International’s Neve was among those who met him at the airport in Montreal. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind,” Neve declared at the time, “that he has been through a horrific ordeal.”
Arar’s case points to the risks inherent in America’s dominant role in the post-9/11 world. It appears that U.S. officials triggered the entire episode, but they have offered little in the way of explanation and refuse to participate in the Canadian inquiry. Arar may get some answers if his U.S. lawsuit survives its first major challenge—a motion to dismiss the case on technical grounds. If the case moves to the discovery phase, says Steven Watt, one of Arar’s U.S. attorneys, “that should enable us to get our hands on documentation that would definitively show what the U.S. involvement was in his removal to Syria, and the extent of it, as well as that of Canada.”

**Flying While Muslim

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on December 23, 2004 3:01 PM.

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