Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Montreal man who was stranded in Sudan for six years, has been given the green light to sue the federal government and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.
In a written ruling released on Monday, the Federal Court gave Abdelrazik the right to proceed with the lawsuit, which is seeking $27 million in damages.
The 48-year old Sudanese-born man, a Canadian citizen since 1995, alleges his right to freedom and security was violated.
Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan in the spring of 2003, a few months after he had arrived to visit his ailing mother. He was never charged, but claims that he was tortured during two stints in custody — one lasting 11 months and the other, nine months.
Adding to his problems in jail, his passport expired and he learned he was on the United Nations no-fly list due to allegations he had ties to terrorism.
Because he was unable to travel, Abdelrazik was forced to live at the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum.
Abdelrazik was only able to return to Canada in June 2009 after a judge ordered the federal government to issue travel documents and ensure Abdelrazik his return home within 30 days.
The federal government had sought to block the lawsuit, said Abdelrazik's lawyer, Paul Champ.
"The government was arguing that individuals could not sue for torture and they were also arguing that there was no legal duty on the Government of Canada to protect Canadians detained abroad," said Champ.
Government lawyers also argued that Cannon could not personally be named in the lawsuit.
The ruling clears the way for others who have been tortured abroad to sue the government, said Champ.
"We've had a lot of very unfortunate actions by Canadian government officials and we hope that the courts will play a role in holding our government accountable," he said.
The federal government has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
In an email, a spokesperson for the department of Foreign Affairs said the government is reviewing the decision and reserves comment because of ongoing litigation.