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Jordan's role in Arar deportation questioned

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said he will ask Jordan to explain its role in Maher Arar's deportation from New York to Syria via Jordan.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said he will ask Jordan to explain its role in Maher Arar'sdeportation from New York to Syria via Jordan.

Jordan's rolecame into the spotlight this weekafter a UN officialquestioned the country's version of events in Arar's ordeal.

Arar, a Canadian citizen who was born in Syria,was arrested in New York in October 2002, and sent to Syria, where he was held for more than a year and tortured.

Jordan has said it did as Arar asked when he was transferredfrom Amman to Syria.

But according to Canadian Judge Dennis O'Connor's report intoArar's ordeal,Jordan was a transit point for the chained and shackled Arar, who was taken there in a small plane.

Jordanianofficialspresent a very different picture. They told UN investigator Manfred Nowak that "Mr. Arar arrived in Amman as a normal passenger on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight," and that he was asked to leave the country because his name was on a terrorism watch list.

Arar picked several destinations, but because there were no flights available,"he ultimately asked GID [Jordan's General Intelligence Directorate]to bring him to Syria by car, which GID did," Nowak reported earlier this week.

Nowak, who went to Jordan as the UN's special rapporteur for torture to investigate reports of abuse there, questioned the explanations offered by Jordanian officials.

"In the view of the special rapporteur, it is astonishing that high-level intelligence officials provided him an account which is clearly contradicted by the well-substantiated and partly proven allegations, as well as the evidence obtained so far and made public in this well-known case," he wrote.

After a lengthy investigation, O'Connor reported that Arar arrived in Jordan's capital, Amman, in the middle of the night, and was taken blindfolded to a detention centre.

He was questioned, and "the next morning, he was told that he was going to Syria. Later that day, he was blindfolded and put into a vehicle. Around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Arar was in Syria, in the Far Falestin detention centre."

But Jordanian officials deny any role in Arar's transport to Syria, other than helping him go where he wanted to go.

"We were very transparent with Mr Nowak, so I believe that we gave him all the information and we have nothing else to say concerning that matter," a spokesman said Friday.

Jordan, like Syria and the United States, refused to testify at O'Connor's inquiry.

In his report, O'Connor said a Canadian official asked Jordanain officialsabout Arar several days afterArar left New York.The Canadianwas told that there was no indication Arar had ever entered Jordan.

Nine days later, Jordan changed that story, saying thatArar had come into the country, but he was only in transit.