The cases of Almalki, Nureddin and El Maati
Last Updated Oct. 22, 2008
From front to back, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin all say they were tortured while imprisoned in Syria. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
The federal government announced on Dec. 12, 2006, that it was launching an independent inquiry into the cases of three Canadians who allege they were tortured while imprisoned in Syria. All three — Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati — had earlier called for an inquiry like that held in the similar case of Maher Arar. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said the inquiry for the three men was focused on finding out whether their detentions resulted from the actions of Canadian officials and whether Canadian consular officials acted appropriately in the cases. Former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci was chosen to lead the inquiry.
- CBC STORY: Ottawa calls inquiry into 3 Syrian detentions
- CBC STORY: 3 more Canadians alleging torture seek Arar-style inquiry
In October 2008, the inquiry concluded that the actions of Canadian officials contributed indirectly to the torture of the three men in Syria.
"I found no evidence that any of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were a part," wrote Iacobucci in his report.
He found that the actions of the RCMP and CSIS indirectly led to the torture of El Maati, "two actions of the RCMP" indirectly led to the torture of Almalki and that certain instances of information sharing by CSIS and RCMP officials indirectly led to the torture of Nureddin.
The three men have been joined by human rights groups such as Amnesty International in decrying the inquiry process, saying it was unfair, flawed and secretive.
The Canadian government has said the proceedings were kept out of the public eye in order to protect national security and to hasten the inquiry process.
Abdullah Almalki was arrested in 2002 in Syria and kept in custody for 22 months. He told the CBC's The Current that Syrian interrogators beat the soles of his feet with steel cables, trying to make him confess to being a member of al-Qaeda. Almalki says the Syrians told him they were getting their information from Canada. Almalki, who knew Maher Arar before being held, was released from prison in March 2004 and returned to Canada. At the Arar inquiry hearings, an RCMP officer said Almalki was "the main target" of an anti-terrorism investigation. A report by Stephen Toope, the fact-finder for the Arar inquiry, says that his allegations of torture were "convincing."
Ahmad El Maati
Kuwaiti-born Ahmad El Maati worked as a truck driver, travelling between Canada and the U.S. In the spring of 2001, CSIS began investigating him for links to al-Qaeda. When El Maati was in Damascus to attend his wedding, Syrian officials arrested him. He said authorities there knew his name and were waiting for him. He said he was tortured and forced to confess to crimes he didn't commit, and that his captors told him the Canadian government was behind what happened to him. He was released from custody in Egypt in January 2004. He spent a total of 790 days in prison and was never charged. Early in 2006, El Maati filed a lawsuit against the federal government and names former prime minister Jean Chrétien and a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). A report by Stephen Toope, the fact-finder for the Maher Arar inquiry, says that his allegations of torture were "convincing."
- CBC INTERVIEW: The Current, Dec. 13, 2006
Muayyed Nureddin, a Toronto-area geologist, visited family and friends in Kirkuk in northern Iraq in 2003. When he left for Toronto, he went through Syria, where he was arrested. He spent a month in jail and was released in January 2004. He later said he was tortured while in Syrian custody and demanded to be included in the inquiry into Maher Arar's case. A report by Stephen Toope, the fact-finder for the Arar inquiry, says that his allegations of torture were "convincing."
- Main page: Timeline
- Arar inquiry - recommendations
- Reining in the Mounties
- Letter from Alberto Gonzales and Michael Chertoff to Stockwell Day on Maher Arar
- (PDF) January 16, 2007
- Renditions: Extraordinary, erroneous, ineffective?
Previous pages on this topic
- Arar commission website
- Terms of Reference for the Arar inquiry from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
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