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Arar's Consular File Was Heavily Censored By RCMP

Posted on Wednesday, January 28 at 14:16 by polemarch1

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Waldman says the "unprecedented" vetting of the file provides additional impetus for a full inquiry into Arar's case.
"It would seem the government is intent on intimidating the media to stop investigating, by going around searching the premises of the reporters and threatening prosecution," he said, referring to last week's raid on the home and office of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill.
Waldman said Arar's only other recourse is through the Access to Information Act. "Now they are trying to cut that option off ... . It is not acceptable and it just makes one wonder what the government is trying to hide."
Foreign Affairs insisted it had not been asked by the RCMP "to turn over" the file.
However, RCMP Inspector André Guertin explained it would be normal for Foreign Affairs to "consult" the RCMP about the file, if it contained information provided by the police force. He said normally such a consultation takes only 10 days.
The consular file is for the period October 2002 to the end of May 2003 and is believed to record Arar's plight while detained in the United States and in Syria. A May 28, 2003, request for the Foreign Affairs file took about seven months to process.
Arar, 33, a Syrian-born Canadian, was arrested on Sept. 26, 2002, at New York's JFK airport. American officials deported him to the Middle East on Oct. 8, 2002. He says he was tortured in Syria, then released without charges three months ago.
Melanie Gruer, press secretary to Prime Minister Paul Martin, said he remains open to a full inquiry, but only after internal probes into the RCMP and CSIS roles in the case are completed.
Researcher Ken Rubin, who obtained the Foreign Affairs file for Arar, filed a complaint yesterday to information commissioner John Reid about the numerous exemptions and the RCMP's month-long "questionable access" to the entire consular file.
Also yesterday, Reid Morden, former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, condemned the RCMP raids on O'Neill as "outrageous overkill," and called for reforms to check the sweeping police powers of Canada's anti-terrorism laws.
The Ottawa Citizen for more info.

Note: CanWest News Service

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