Canadian government apologizes to deportation victim Arar

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on behalf of the government apologized to deportation victim Maher Arar.

In 2002, Syrian-born and Canadian software engineer Maher Arar was arrested by U.S. officials and deported to Syria after the U.S. suspected that he was a terrorist. Arar was held in a Syrian prison where he was regularly tortured for a year. He came back to Canada in October 2003.

The affair became very public in Canada. Arar is banned from the United States and the Canadian government says they will try to talk with U.S. officials. Harper is calling on the U.S. government to take Arar off the no-fly and terrorist watchlists. Arar was "wrongly" accused of being a terrorist.

The Canadan PM gave him an apology for Canada's role in the affair and offered a $10.5 million compensation package to Arar and his family. Arar gladly agreed to the package.

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada "On behalf of the government of Canada, I wish to apologize to you...and your family for any role Canadian officials may have played in the terrible ordeal that all of you experienced in 2002 and 2003."

"I sincerely hope that these words and actions will assist you and your family in your efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in your lives."

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

"I try to see how I'm still being portrayed on the Internet and in the media. And I'll be open with you -- I get very upset when I read the words 'terror suspect', 'former terror suspect' because it always reminds the reader of this link that never existed. I'm very excited when I see people referring to me as a Canadian computer engineer," Arar said Friday in a news conference in Ottawa responding to the governments apology.

"The struggle to clear my name has been long and hard," he said. "I feel now I can put more time into being a good father, and to being a good husband and to rebuilding my life."

"This struggle has taught me how important it is to stand up for human rights," he said. "I feel proud as a Canadian and I feel proud of what we've been able to achieve."

Arar currently lives with his wife Monia Mazigh and two children in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

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