The former head of the McGill University Hospital and Canada’s spy watchdog agency says he's “angry” that he is languishing in a Panamanian jail — while waging a fight against cancer — fully 13 months after his arrest in Panama City.
Dr. Arthur Porter sent a letter to the editor of Panama City newspaper Panama America in which he says he has survived, despite anything Canada or Panama has done.
Porter’s letter explains how he was in transit, on a humanitarian tour of cancer clinics he set up in the Caribbean, when he was detained on an international warrant issued by Canada.
The warrant stems from charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud against the government, breach of trust, laundering the proceeds of crime, and participating in a secret commission, with respect to $22.5 million in kickbacks SNC-Lavalin is alleged to have paid to make sure the Montreal-based engineering firm would build the new $1.3 billion MUHC superhospital.
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“I had travelled on my diplomatic passport, and was surprised that not only was it ignored, and my request to telephone the government of Sierra Leone denied,” wrote the African-born Porter, but “it was also insinuated that it was a fake or fraudulently obtained!”
At the time of his arrest on May 26, 2013, Porter was suffering from a form of cancer that Dr. Karol Sikora, a British oncologist who once headed the World Health Organization’s cancer program, said would kill Porter within six months to a year.
Dr. Sikora is also infamous for being one of three specialists who said the Lockerbie bomber would survive only three months if he was released from his Scottish prison — Abdelbaset al-Megrahi lived another three years after his release back to Libya.
Porter, in his letter, says he is self-administering chemotherapy drugs twice-daily.
“In spite of the non-existent medical care, I have been able to succeed in getting my chemotherapy drugs, and as a Cancer Specialist myself, been able to manage the complications, including daily nausea and vomiting, infections and bleeding … and have survived, even thrived.
“However, I am very angry,” he continued. “I am angry at having my fundamental rights trampled underfoot, I am angry that all the time-sensitive legal processes never seem to get resolved. I am angry that all requests for me to see my oncologist, Prof. Karol Sikora, have been thwarted, and even my request to have evaluative CAT scans has fallen on deaf ears.”
Porter says the Panamanian government agreed in January to let him go to hospital for tests, but it never happened.
Now that he is strong enough to fight back, he is clinging to two hopes for release.
He claims his home country of Sierre Leone has formally requested of the new Panamanian government, installed July 1, to respect the diplomatic passport and allow Porter to return home.
Last week, he also filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages to “my health, reputation and my businesses.” Porter claims he has had “patients leave, contracts cancelled, operations closed” on the businesses that he has on three continents.
That suit cites Panamanian Law 2502 which states that if a person being sought on extradition does not face a hearing within 60 days of their detention, they are to be freed.
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