OTTAWA (AP) – Canada’s prime minister said he will send a formal letter of complaint to President George W. Bush over the treatment of a Canadian terror suspect who was sent to a Syrian prison by American authorities.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper notified Bush of that decision during a telephone call Friday.
The suspect, Syrian-born Maher Arar, was exonerated of all suspicion of terrorist activity last month by a Canadian commission of inquiry.
The inquiry indicated that Canadian police told U.S. authorities that Arar was an Islamic extremist suspected of links to al-Qaeda. The accusations proved to be wrong and are likely what led the Americans to deport him to Syria.
Rights groups charge that Arar is a classic case of extraordinary rendition, the U.S. transfer of foreign terror suspects to third countries without court approval.
Harper, speaking to reporters in Calgary, said he told Bush that Arar had been “unfairly deported” to face torture in Syria and that “American officials had not been candid and truthful” in dealing with Canadian authorities.
Bush, according to Harper, pledged to address the letter of complaint and reply.
The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last week apologized to Arar, who said he was tortured in Syria after the U.S. sent him there.
Arar, a software engineer, was traveling on a Canadian passport when he was detained at New York’s Kennedy Airport in 2002 during a layover on his way home to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia.
After his release from a Damascus prison in 2003, Arar made detailed allegations about beatings and whippings with electrical cables.
U.S. and Syrian officials refused to cooperate in the Canadian inquiry.