|Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, who was detained by
U.S. officials last year during a stopover in a New York
airport, said he was repeatedly tortured after the U.S. secretly
deported him to Syria where he spent 374 days in a Damascus
prison without charges.
In Syria, Arar said he was repeatedly beaten and tortured,
kept in a cell three feet wide and forced to sign false
confessions. During a press conference on Tuesday he said,
"I was willing to confess to anything to stop the
torture." He added, "I am not a terrorist. I am not a
member of al Qaeda. I have never been to Afghanistan."
The U.S. says Arar’s name appeared on lists of suspected
terrorists. But why was he sent to Syria instead of Canada where
is a citizen and he has lived for the past 15 years?
On Wednesday, officials told the Washington Post
anonymously that the U.S. knowingly sends suspects abroad to be
tortured. One official said "The temptation is to have
these folks in other hands because they have different
standards," while another said, "Someone might be able
to get information we can't from detainees."
The Post also reported that a high-ranking Syrian
diplomat said that Syria agreed to imprison Arar in a gesture of
goodwill toward the United States. Imad Moustafa, chargé
d'affaires at the Syrian Embassy in Washington said U.S.
officials told the Syrians they had "solid
information" about Arar's links to al Qaeda but never
Moustafa also said Syrian officials freed Arar a month ago
because the Bush administration cut communications with the
government in Damascus and because they wanted to maintain good
ties with the Canadian government.
- Maher Arar, Syrian-born Canadian citizen who spent
a year imprisoned in Syria after U.S. officials detained him
at a New York airport during a stopover.
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