Wilkins slams Day for questioning U.S. on Arar

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins criticized Ottawa's efforts to have Maher Arar removed from a U.S. security watch list, saying the U.S. alone will decide who to let into the country.

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins on Wednesday criticized Ottawa's efforts to have Maher Arar removed from a United States security watch list, sayingthe U.S. alone will decide who to let into the country.

Speaking in Edmonton after meeting with new Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, Wilkins warned Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to back off, because a U.S. review determined Arar should remain on the watch list.

"It's a little presumptuous for him [Day] to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country," Wilkins told reporters Wednesday.

The ambassador reiterated that the U.S. found its own reasons to keep Arar on the watch list.

Day said in a visit last week to Washington that he has seen the information and found nothing new to suggest Arar is a safety risk.

Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, was seized at a New York airport in 2002 and sent to Syria, where he was tortured. A judicial inquiry into his case led by Justice Dennis O'Connor was set up after Arar returned to Canada more than a year later.

O'Connor concluded Arar had no terror links and the RCMP had given misleading information to U.S. authorities, which may have been the reason he was sent to Syria.

Parliament apologized to Arar and the government has been asking Washington to remove him from a watch list that prevents him from travelling to the U.S., despite being cleared in Canada.

However, the U.S. has refused to do so and has not explained why.

Day said Tuesday in Halifax that Canada will continue to let its position be known.

With files from the Canadian Press