Markham man on U.S. no-fly list stranded overseas, feels 'helpless'

A Markham man says he has been stranded in Amsterdam since Wednesday morning after he was denied boarding his connecting flight home because his name was on an American security list.

'As a Canadian citizen I felt very helpless,' says Nanak Partap Singh

Nanak Partap Singh says he has been stuck in Amsterdam for two days because his name is on an American no-fly list. (CBC)

A Markham, Ont., man says he has been stranded in Amsterdam since Wednesday morning after he was not allowed to board his flight home because his name was on an American security list.

Nanak Partap Singh was travelling home from India and had a connecting flight with KLM in the Netherlands. He says he tried to print off his boarding pass using a kiosk, but was instructed to check in manually.

"They told me I cannot get on the flight unless they got clearance from Canadian authorities," Singh told CBC News.

His suitcase was unloaded from the flight and staff had to explain the delay to the other passengers, which Singh says was "humiliating."

Singh says he called consular services at the Canadian embassy in The Hague and spoke to an official there.

"I asked her, 'How can an individual citizen get his name cleared?'" Singh said. 

He says he was told it was his responsibility to connect with American authorities to clear his name.

"As a Canadian citizen I felt very helpless."

His wife requested emergency assistance in Ottawa and was also told to contact authorities in the United States. She then reached out to the office of their local MP, Jane Philpott, which Singh says offered the same response.

'Beyond our control'

CBC News asked Canada's Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, for comment. His office says it does not comment about specific individuals for security reasons, and can only control Canada's own no-fly list.

"If the other country requires an airline to use their own no-fly list that is beyond our control, and it's certainly appropriate for other governments have their own security lists" said Goodale's press secretary Scott Bardsley.

Bardsley said Canadians can apply to the U.S. Traveler Redress Inquiry Program if their name is on an American security list.

Singh says he doesn't understand why the Canadian government isn't providing more help with the issue. He has been staying with someone he met at the local Sikh temple and says the airline will not release his luggage, even though he has a baggage tag.

He says he doesn't have proper clothes and is wearing a piece of cloth as a turban because he packed both of his turbans in his suitcase.

"I can imagine a lot of families whose names crop up on this list and they're subjected to this, they keep it to themselves because it attracts a lot of attention," he said. 

The Canadian government's website outlines what consular services can and cannot provide for citizens. It says government officials abroad cannot intercede with foreign immigration officials to allow a citizen to enter or exit a country.

With files from Kira Wakeam