Montreal

Abdelrazik’s bank assets frozen

Caisse Populaire Desjardins has frozen a bank account opened by Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Montreal man who spent more than six years stuck in Sudan after he was placed on a UN Security Council watch list.

Caisse Populaire Desjardins has frozen a bank account opened by Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Montreal man who spent more than six years stuck in Sudan after he was placed on a UN Security Council watch list amid allegations he has ties to terrorism.

Abousfian Abdelrazik speaks about his experiences in Sudan during a news conference on Parliament Hill on July 23, 2009. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

The allegations have never been substantiated. At the time of his forced exile, Canada's security agency, CSIS and the RCMP both confirmed they were not investigating Abdelrazik.

Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan in the spring of 2003, a few months after he had arrived to visit his ailing mother. He was accused of being an associate of al-Qaeda and was twice imprisoned in the African country.

He lived at the Canadian Embassy in Sudan for a year until the federal government repatriated him last June in compliance with a federal court order.

A spokesman for Desjardins, André Chapleau, said that since Abdelrazik is still on the UN watchlist, the bank has a legal obligation to freeze an account Abdelrazik had opened a month ago.

"We followed the instructions set by those authorities, which require that all assets belonging to any person appearing on the list be frozen," Chapleau said.

"So we didn’t really have any choice but to freeze his assets, and in doing so comply with the laws governing financial institutions. Otherwise, Desjardins would have been in a situation where it could have been forbidden from operating," he added.

The account contained about $10,000, including money from his late wife's estate. Abdelrazik is also not allowed to earn any income while on the UN's 1267 list, named for a resolution passed in 1999.

His supporters say the federal government should move to get Abdelrazik off the list.

Gerald Caplan, former federal secretary of the NDP, has been involved in the campaign to clear the Sudanese-born Canadian citizen. He said there’s no proof the Montrealer has done anything to deserve what’s happening to him.

"There's not a single accusation against him that we know about. He's certainly never been convicted of anything. There's not a shred of evidence that anyone has ever found that ties him to anything illicit. So why are they doing this?" Caplan said in an interview with CBC News.

Caplan said he hopes to turn up the pressure on the federal government to get Abdelrazik removed from the list in the coming weeks.

Abdelrazik announced last September he is suing the federal government and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, alleging his right to freedom and security of person was violated.

His lawsuit is demanding $24 million in punitive damages from the government and $3 million from Cannon.

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