Abdelrazik accuses CSIS of harassment

A Montreal man who spent almost six years stranded in Sudan recounted his claims of torture by officials while in the country, and accused Canadian intelligence agents of harassing his family for months before he arrived there.
Abousfian Abdelrazik recounts his ordeal after being exiled in Sudan for six years. ((CBC))
A Montreal man who spent almost six years stranded in Sudan recounted his claims of torture by officials while in the country, and accused Canadian intelligence agents of harassing his family for months before he arrived there.

In a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Abousfian Abdelrazik also said two CSIS agents came to Sudan in 2003 and interrogated him for two days, and said no one would help him get back to Canada because he was a terrorist.

The 47-year-old Sudanese-born man returned to Canada last month after a judge ruled that the Harper government breached his constitutional rights. He was stranded for six years in Sudan, despite CSIS and the RCMP clearing him of terrorism allegations. But he had been on the United Nations no-fly list amid allegations he has ties to terrorism.

He also said politicians who went to visit him in 2008 ignored his pleas for help, instead asking him his opinions on Osama bin Laden, the Sept. 11 attacks and Israel.

Recounting his ordeal, Abdelrazik said the harassment began shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"After Sept. 11, CSIS intensively harassed me and my family. My wife was sick with cancer. And even these circumstances, CSIS harassed my wife intensively," he said. "They came to her many time and asked her to give them information about me."

Claims harassment by agents

He said his wife, who was suffering from cancer, was promised better medical treatment if she co-operated. He claimed agents also pressured her father and sister while she was in hospital and that the harassment continued up until his wife's death.

Abdelrazik said agents also questioned him before his trip to Sudan in 2003 to see his ailing mother.

Abousfian Abdelrazik smiles at Toronto's Pearson International Airport as he returns to Canada last month after a six-year exile in Sudan. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press))
He said that when he arrived in Sudan, two agents from Sudan intelligence took him to headquarters, where he was questioned and detained.

He said at one point he was taken to see two CSIS agents who had harassed him and his wife in Montreal. Abdelrazik said they asked him the same questions as the Sudanese agents.

"I asked them [for] help.I want to go back to Canada because my children are there. Want to go back to my family. But one of them, he told me he is not going to help a terrorist. And he said, 'I am Sudanese, not Canadian.' I am supposed to stay in Sudan forever. And they go further like said my country, it doesn't need you."

He said that after he went back to prison, they started torturing him.

"Like beating, hanged from the hand to the door frames, kicked, slapped and isolation, isolation for several months," he said.

Abdelrazik was eventually released, but said he was detained again in 2005 and spent the next five months in jail, in which he was again tortured.

He said that in 2008, he was met by two members of Parliament, including Tory MP Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.

He said instead of helping him, the politicians interrogated him.

"They asked me questions, my own political opinions about bin Laden, Israel and Sept. 11."

Another person asked him about Hamas, he said.

"Actually, I never saw bin Laden in my entire life. I’m not involved in this kind of thing, you know. I’ve never been to Chechnya. I am a Muslim, but I’ve never hurt anybody in my life."

He said he showed the politicians his scars from the beatings, but they did not react, telling him he's on the UN terror list and that he can't go back to Canada.

Abdelrazik said he is seeking justice against those responsible for his ordeal, and is currently trying to get his name removed from the UN terror list and begin a normal life. He said he hasn't decided whether to pursue some sort of compensation.

With files from The Canadian Press