Montreal

Sudan threats to Abdelrazik known by Ottawa: emails

Newly released documents suggest the Canadian government knew a Montreal man detained in Sudan had been threatened with extrajudicial execution, but Ottawa did nothing to bring him home.

Khartoum wanted 'permanent solution' to detained Montrealer's case: embassy staff

Newly released documents suggest the Canadian government knew a Montreal man detained in Sudan had been threatened with extrajudicial execution, but Ottawa did nothing to bring him home.

Abousfian Abdelrazik, left, smiles as he returns to Canada last month at Toronto's Pearson International Airport after being stranded for six years in Sudan. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press))
Abousfian Abdelrazik was stranded for six years in Sudan, despite CSIS and the RCMP clearing him of terrorism allegations.

Abdelrazik, 47, returned to Canada last month after a Federal Court judge ordered the federal government to have him repatriated, ruling Ottawa had violated his charter rights.

His lawyers obtained the heavily redacted emails between Canadian embassy officials in Khartoum and government officials in Ottawa through Canada's Privacy Act and posted them online on Tuesday.

The three email exchanges between Canada's ambassador in Sudan and Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa date back to the spring of 2006, just two months after Stephen Harper's Conservative government took office from Paul Martin's Liberals.

In the emails, embassy officials said Sudan was prepared to release Abdelrazik as long as Canada would guarantee flight arrangements and an escort to bring him home.

In an email written on March 21, 2006, Canadian embassy officials in Khartoum warned the Sudanese government wanted to "deal with this case once and for all."

The embassy officials also warned Ottawa that Sudanese officials had made a verbal  reference to a "permanent solution" if the situation was not resolved quickly.

In the same emails, Canadian embassy officials also told Ottawa that Abdelrazik could be turned over to Sudan's military intelligence and warned there was strong evidence that the same military intelligence agency was responsible for most of Sudan's "disappeared."

Shocked by documents

Abdelrazik's supporters said they are shocked by the documents. 

"It's obvious from its context that the reference to permanent solution is an indication that the Sudanese officials were prepared to execute Mr. Abdelrazik without any legal process," Paul Champ, one of Abdelrazik's lawyers, told CBC News.

A month later, after two emails accusing Ottawa of being vague and non-committal on the issue, Foreign Affairs responded by thanking the officials for their patience and insisting the department viewed Abdelrazik's situation as a "consular case."

It insisted the federal government would assist Abdelrazik in making travel arrangements, but "no consideration" was being given at the time to provide a special flight for him to return to Canada.

"We are unfortunately not in a position at this stage to offer specific information as to how return would be effected," the response said. "Notwithstanding the expected displeasure of the Sudanese with this response, you should restate our position and make no further comment other than to say that we continue to insist on immediate consular access to our citizen."

Champ said his client was shocked by the exchanges and wants to meet with Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon to demand answers.

"This is yet another example of yet another Canadian who suffered serious human rights abuses abroad and that there's evidence of complicity of Canadian government officials," he said.

But Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Emma Welford rejected the allegations, saying they can't be supported and are irresponsible.

Welford points out Abdelrazik was released in 2006 and lived in Sudan for two years before seeking refuge at the Canadian Embassy.

Abdelrazik is scheduled to answer questions for the first time at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.

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