By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 23, 2011 - 0 Comments
Margin notes on CSIS documents related to the conversation, marked “Secret” and now in the possession of The Globe and Mail, highlight the fact that Mr. Abdelrazik was only on a U.S. no-fly list – insufficient to keep him from returning to Canada. It’s unclear what transpired during the conversation, but soon afterward both Air Canada and Lufthansa abruptly cancelled Mr. Abdelrazik’s ticket home. He would spend another five years in forced exile.
The “Canadian Eyes Only” documents also reveal for the first time officially that U.S. security agents wanted Mr. Abdelrazik shipped to Guantanamo Bay. If CSIS managed to delay Mr. Abdelrazik’s return in 2004, it had the effect of buying time while U.S. agents worked to render him to the notorious camp for suspected terrorists.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 3:27 PM - 40 Comments
Without commenting on Abousfian Abdelrazik, mind you, Jason Kenney suggests we put our faith in the government in cases such as his.
“I read the protected confidential dossiers on such individuals, and I can tell you that, without commenting on any one individual, some of this intelligence makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck,” he said. “I just think people should be patient and thoughtful and give the government and its agencies the benefit of the doubt.”
But, as Campbell Clark notes in that story, the leak of CSIS documentation raises plenty of questions. Indeed, supporters of Adil Charkaoui want an inquiry into that leak.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 10:45 AM - 9 Comments
Going back to June and including each of his answers since announcing the government would comply with a court order to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik home, here, for your enjoyment, are the last eight responses offered by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in Question Period.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 11:57 AM - 87 Comments
Below is a transcript of Michael Ignatieff’s remarks to the House this morning in moving the official opposition’s motion of non-confidence. The Liberal leader’s office says he spoke without a prepared script.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to announce formally that the official opposition has lost confidence in the government. This is a serious step and we owe an explanation both to this House and to the Canadian people of our grounds for doing so.
Nous avons perdu confiance dans ce gouvernement et nous nous mettons debout pour protéger les gens qui ont été abandonnés par ce gouvernement. Je vais essayer de donner des raisons concrètes pour lesquelles nous allons retirer la confiance de ce gouvernement.
'It's unprecedented that Canadian officials were directly responsible for the torture of a Canadian citizen'
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 2:27 AM - 7 Comments
Abousfian Abdelrazik files suit, on serious charges.
Mr. Abdelrazik, who spent nearly six years in prison or forced exile while his attempts to come home were thwarted, returned to Canada in June after Ottawa was ordered by a federal judge to repatriate the 47-year-old Sudanese-Canadian.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks more than double the $10.5-million the Harper government paid Maher Arar, the Canadian tortured in Syria. The role of Canada’s spies in Mr. Abdelrazik’s case was “far worse,” than in the Arar case, said Paul Champ, one of his lawyers. “Its unprecedented that Canadian officials were directly responsible for the torture of a Canadian citizen.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 31, 2009 at 10:01 AM - 32 Comments
John Baglow makes serious allegations about this government’s approach to citizenship.
Stephen Harper is going to the Supreme Court to put the boots once again to an off-white Canadian.
Can anyone now doubt that the Conservatives have managed in a mere three years to institute a tiered, colour-coded notion of citizenship in this country? And by “Conservatives,” I mean both our present government and its party base. If anyone doubts me on the latter, a good throat-gagging read of the comments collected by the major on-line media on the Suaad Hagi Mohamud case alone should put any lingering doubts to rest.
There is one level of citizenship for, say, a Brenda Martin. But there is quite another for Abousfian Abdelrazik, still unable lawfully to find a job in his own country, or to receive any kind of social assistance. Or for Suaad Hagi Mohamud, Abdihakim Mohamed …
Or Omar Khadr.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 7, 2009 at 4:03 PM - 7 Comments
Apropos of Abousfian Abdelrazik (remember him?) and the questions still unanswered, here is the text of questions posed by Stephen Harper for Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Nov. 5, 2003.
Maher Arar was imprisoned and tortured in a Syrian prison. Canadian officials may have been involved in his deportation. Yesterday in an all party committee of the House, members of all parties basically unanimously demanded that the government hold a public inquiry into this situation. Why is the government refusing to have a public inquiry to lay to rest some of these allegations?
Mr. Speaker, it is completely acceptable that we would get the facts from other countries but we should be getting the facts from our own government of its role in this case. Consular officials visited Mr. Arar in New York and Syria, yet somehow the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Solicitor General all refused to accept any responsibility. What is the government hiding? Why does the government refuse to disclose all of the facts of its role in this case?
Mr. Speaker, on this side we are prepared to have a public inquiry to get to the bottom of the truth. The government should be prepared to do exactly the same thing. Mr. Arar, members of the opposition and members of the government are asking for a public inquiry. The Prime Minister’s own whip says that no stone should be left unturned. I believe the Prime Minister’s successor will hold a public inquiry if he does not, so will the Prime Minister, for the benefit of all of us–
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 11:13 AM - 10 Comments
Stephen Harper, Canadian Alliance: “We’ve learned that “soft power” doesn’t work when dealing with regimes that only understand hard power. Liberals cling to this doctrine, but in practice it has failed time and again. The highest duty of government is the protection of its citizens. Canada must ensure consequences when foreign governments torture or kill our people.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 31, 2009 at 9:17 PM - 10 Comments
Paul Koring, July 24. Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen whose reputation remains tainted by ministerial accusations, wants his name restored and those Canadian security agents who aided his imprisonment in Sudan brought to justice … But the Harper government made it clear yesterday that Mr. Abdelrazik couldn’t expect any support in his efforts to remove his name from the UN list. Foreign Minster Lawrence Cannon, in a letter delivered yesterday, told Mr. Abdelrazik to check out a UN website that explains delisting procedures for individuals. “I regret to inform you that I must decline your invitation to meet,” the minister wrote.
Michael Petrou, July 27. There is nothing in Foreign Affairs’ response to indicate that Canada considered using Vafaseresht’s information in a legal case against Mortazavi … And Canada might have had good information to suggest that Vafaseresht’s story is not credible. But I also spoke to Shahram Azam, a former doctor in Iran’s Defence Ministry, who examined Kazemi four days after her arrest and found extensive evidence of torture. Azam now lives in Canada and says he is willing to testify against Mortazavi. But he too says no one from the Canadian government has talked to him about Kazemi either. MacKay said Canada would do whatever it takes to bring Mortazavi to justice. This apparently doesn’t include talking to the doctor who examined Kazemi’s broken body.
Canadian Press, tonight. The Canadian government has also formally asked Brazilian authorities for “more information” about Gatti’s death … ”The government of Canada is seeking more information on the investigation into the death of its citizen, and on the findings of the investigation,” Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a statement Friday.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 9:42 PM - 7 Comments
More from Michael Ignatieff’s incredibly anticipated appearance in public this afternoon.
Bipartisan negotiations on employment insurance reform got off to a rocky start Thursday, with the Liberal leader slamming what he called the Conservative government’s indifference to the plight of Canada’s jobless. Michael Ignatieff issued the criticism just as three Liberals and three Conservatives – members of an EI reform panel struck last month in an 11th-hour deal to avert a summer election – were sitting down for their first meeting.
“We note that the government has taken five weeks to get its act together on this. We were ready to go at the end of June with this committee,” Ignatieff said. ”It’s a sign I’m not sure that they give any real importance to employment insurance reform but we certainly do.”
Odds that he'll demand a full public inquiry 3/2 and rising – NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar responds to Abdelrazik's story
By kadyomalley - Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM - 8 Comments
Not that ITQ would quibble with him if he did, mind you — not after what we heard this morning, at least. Check back at 2:30 pm for full liveblogging coverage.
(In the meantime, check out Paul Koring’s latest here.)
And we’re back — and that was a royal we, not an indication that a throng of reporters is filling the room in anticipation of Paul Dewar’s reaction; ITQ is, thus far, the only non-technician in the room. That’s what happens when you don’t give us sufficient warning of a non-urgent press conference, I guess — unless it’s likely to blow up the current news cycle real good, we’re just not going to drop everything and head to 130-S on little more than an hour’s notice.
By kadyomalley - Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 9:45 AM - 64 Comments
Greetings, fans of truth and justice for all, including Canadians moored in dire circumstances abroad! ITQ is on the scene at – sigh, the Charles Lynch Press Theatre, which, for the record, is definitely *our* second choice ballot pick when it comes to Hill media venues. It’s small, and cramped, and there’s no simultaneous interpretation, so unless the speaker du jour brings along a French or English body double, Sheila Weatherill-style.
Anyway, the room is filling up quickly, and there is, of course, a camera crew gauntlet to be run in the hall, but otherwise, nobody really knows exactly how today will unfold. Will we have a series of consecutive/concurrent press conferences in reaction, like with the Weatherill report? Nobody knows. Oh, except we *do* know that the government – or at least Lawrence Cannon – will have no comment to make. They complied with the court order, and that’s all they have to say.
Ooh! He’s here!
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 10:22 PM - 12 Comments
An official response from foreign affairs to the Globe’s latest report on Abousfian Abdelrazik’s exile.
The inference drawn in today’s Globe and Mail article is not supportable and is in fact irresponsible. There was no such offer, as was suggested in the reporter’s questions. Despite DFAIT’s unequivocal statement to that effect in our response to the Globe and Mail reporter, this conjecture was reported as fact.
We reject the premise of the reporter’s question and the inferences he drew in the subsequent article.
Furthermore, the facts of this case do not support such an inference. Mr Abdelrazik was released from custody in Sudan in July 2006, despite his inability to return to Canada at that time.
Following his release, he lived openly and at large in Sudan with his family, during which time he remarried and had a child.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 12:48 AM - 10 Comments
Paul Koring delves deeper into the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik.
The Harper government was warned shortly after it came to office in 2006 that Sudan’s notorious military intelligence agency was ready to “disappear” Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, unless Ottawa allowed him to go home, The Globe and Mail has learned. Sudan wanted to “deal with this case for once and for all: we judge as significant their verbal reference to a ‘permanent solution,’” Ottawa was bluntly told by Canadian diplomats in the Sudanese capital, according to documents now in possession of The Globe.
Instead of protesting the threat or warning Sudan – a regime notorious for its human rights abuses – that Ottawa would hold it responsible if harm came to a Canadian citizen held in one of its prisons, diplomats in Khartoum were ordered by a senior Canadian intelligence official to deliver a non-committal response “notwithstanding the expected displeasure of the Sudanese.”
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 5:05 PM - 2 Comments
Abousfian Abdelrazik’s homecoming, twittered.
Canadians deserve to know why so many of this country’s citizens, all of Muslim background, have been imprisoned and tortured abroad. Human-rights organizations, activists and national-security experts have been calling for the current government to establish the credible oversight agency that was recommended by Judge O’Connor several years ago. Their calls have landed on deaf ears. How many more victims will it take before our government realizes that it needs to act?
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 4:35 PM - 4 Comments
While Gerald Caplan details his outrage, Paul Koring raises new questions about this country’s treatment of Abousfian Abdelrazik. Last month, Ben Peterson raised a question that may soon be operative here too: should we consider prosecuting any Canadian officials complicit in torture?
Yes, high-level arrests could spark political controversy. But bypassing the law for fear of a backlash is cowardly and counterproductive. It would, in the long run, weaken our collective ability to fight for justice in the face of tyranny. It would undermine the rule of law. While the prosecution of high-level officials should never be encouraged, if they broke the law, they broke the law. Surely our democracy is strong enough to withstand the fallout…
Perhaps, once the staggering factual and legal complexities involved are sorted through, it will be determined that no Canadian officials should be prosecuted. I hope that’s the case. But these mazes should be navigated not with an eye for history alone, but also to potentially prosecute those involved.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 19, 2009 at 12:09 PM - 10 Comments
Glen Pearson salutes Paul Dewar.
But the one person who stuck on this file and deserves full praise for the victory yesterday was the NDP’s Paul Dewar. Simply put, I found him indefatigable in the cause of justice for Abdelrazik. And I speak from personal experience, as we both sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Against all odds, Dewar exhausted every parliamentarian option, time after time, not just in an attempt to exonerate an innocent citizen, but to prove that the Canadian parliament could be relevant in such a case. I watched as the government members of the committee fought him vociferously. But he worked the system - very well. In key votes on the case, the three opposition parties worked together and won by one vote each time, Paul’s example being the key cause. I witnessed the discouragement on his face every time as the government refused to abide by the will of the committee on this. I would even text him on his Blackberry during committee in an attempt to keep him assured. The hardest day came only three weeks ago, when the Foreign Affairs Minister pointed his finger in anger at Dewar over the issue, in a manner that was beneath the conduct of someone in such an exalted position.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 8:46 PM - 16 Comments
Awhile after the Justice Minister’s unexpected announcement, Paul Dewar stood and asked if Stockwell Day or Vic Toews had, in their previous portfolios, received a request from the U.S. ambassador or the White House that Abousfian Abdelrazik be prevented from returning to Canada.
This would seem to be what prompted that question.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 6:27 PM - 23 Comments
The Liberals persisted in asking the government to account for the current shortage of medical isotopes. The government insisted on doing no such thing. Jack Layton pouted about not receiving an invitation to the Prime Minister’s afternoon tea with Michael Ignatieff the other day. The Prime Minister jabbed his finger and waved his arms and declared the NDP an annoyance. John Baird scorned Mr. Layton with one answer and congratulated him on the birth of his granddaughter—Beatrice Dora Campbell, eight pounds and one ounce, born 12:03am Wednesday morning to Jack’s daughter Sarah—with the next.
Not even the early appearance of Irwin Cotler, the former justice minister rising immediately after Michael Ignatieff had dispensed with his three questions, seemed a cause for much concern. With the House breaking tomorrow for the summer, it appeared the Liberals were merely giving the venerable old lawyer a ceremonial opportunity to register a couple long-held grievances.
He asked first about Omar Khadr. Deepak Obhrai, the foreign affairs minister’s parliamentary secretary, rose with the perfunctory answer.
Mr. Cotler moved to the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian still bunking at our embassy in Sudan, awaiting an answer to the cruel riddle of his situation. “Mr. Speaker, Abousfian Abdelrazik is another abandoned Canadian citizen. In spite of the Federal Court’s severe rebuke, this government continues to violate Mr. Abdelrazik’s rights by refusing to bring him home,” Mr. Cotler posited. “The government has had two weeks to read a judgment that is unequivocal in its findings of fact and conclusions of law. Every day it waits is a continued violation of Mr. Abdelrazik’s rights. Does the government plan on appealing the court’s decision while delaying justice at Mr. Abdelrazik’s expense, or will it heed the court’s order and immediately return Mr. Abdelrazik home to Canada?”
It was here that something truly astonishing happened. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 1:36 PM - 33 Comments
The federal court orders Abousfian Abdelrazik back to Canada.
“Mr. Abdelrazik’s Charter right to enter Canada has been breached by the respondents,” Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn said in a judgment released today. “ Mr. Abdelrazik is entitled to an appropriate remedy which, in the unique circumstances of his situation, requires that the Canadian government take immediate action so that Mr. Abdelrazik is returned to Canada.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 1:20 PM - 13 Comments
Irwin Cotler and David Grossman lay out remedies to the plight of Abousfian Abdelrazik.
Faced with a government that seems to derive its sense of procedural fairness from The Trial, Canadians need a transparent system that makes the government’s obligations to citizens clear for all to see.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 1:24 PM - 4 Comments
Irwin Cotler and David Grossman call for Abousfian Abdelrazik’s return.
The question, then, is why: Why is the Canadian government so committed to refusing passage home to its citizen — a position that appears to have no basis in law and indeed violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Why is the government risking a third straight adverse decision in which the courts admonish it for failing to come to the protection of its citizens? Why is the government invoking dubious security considerations in its defence, ignoring the fact that its own security services — both CSIS and the RCMP — have openly stated they have no information connecting Mr. Abdelrazik to terrorism?
We have a government that is trying to use the Abdelrazik case to narrow down the constitutional right to re-enter Canada for all Canadians, and the only motivation it seems to have is trying to protect us from a threat our security agencies don’t even recognize.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 7:05 PM - 35 Comments
The Scene. In the absence of the Liberal leader, Bob Rae rose to ask the first question, receiving sincere applause from his side and a mocking ovation from the other. The Speaker called for order.
“I appreciate the expressions of support, Mr. Speaker,” Rae grinned, “as late in the day as they may be.”
Another round of applause from the government side. Then down to business. “I would like to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs a question,” Rae began, proceeding to review the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik.
The story is roughly as follows. For the past year, Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, has been living in the Canadian embassy in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, unable to return home. He was arrested in Sudan in 2003 and claims to have been tortured during 19 months in prison there. Accused of having connections to terrorism, he was never charged and has since been cleared by both the RCMP and CSIS. He remains, courtesy of the Bush administration apparently, on a United Nations list that seeks to ban the travel of potential threats. The Canadian government has asked that Abdelrazik be removed from said list and, for a time it seems, offered to let him come home if he could secure a plane ticket. But last month, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon denied Abdelrazik’s request for an emergency passport on the grounds of national security and the government has since said that the Canadian’s presence on the UN list bars him from returning. The whole tale is now before the Federal Court.
It was the latest news—that an official with the UN says its list in no way bars Canada from flying Abdelrazik back—that sent Rae to his feet. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 10, 2009 at 7:31 PM - 6 Comments
Glen Pearson raises Brian Mulroney’s foreign policy legacy to wonder why more isn’t being done for Abousfian Abdelrazik.
Rob Silver wonders why anyone would want to associate with a former prime minister who left office with the lowest approval rating in history.
Douglas Bell suggests everyone watch the Fifth Estate tonight.