On Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia, U.S. officials detained Arar, claiming he had links to al-Qaeda.
He was held without charges in solitary confinement in the United States for nearly two weeks, questioned, and denied meaningful access to a lawyer.
Soon after Arar was shackled and deported to Syria, where he was held in a tiny cell for approximately ten months. In Syria, he was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.
During his imprisonment Arar’s wife, Monia Mazigh, campaigned relentlessly on his behalf until he was returned to Canada in October 2003.
When Arar returned to Canada after over a year, he claimed to have been tortured during his incarceration.
On Jan. 28, 2004, under intense pressure from several Canadian human rights organizations and a large number of individuals, the Government of Canada announced a Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials regarding Maher Arar.
The United States refused to participate in the inquiry and until January 2007, refused to share its own evidence with Canadian officials.
On September 18, 2006, the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, cleared Arar of all terrorism allegations, declaring that he was “able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada.”
On January 26, 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to Arar on behalf of the Canadian government and awarded him a $10.5 million settlement.
Despite the Canadian court ruling, the United States government has not exonerated Arar. In fact, the U.S. has made public statements of their belief that Arar is affiliated with members of terrorist organizations. Arar and his family remain on a watchlist.
Center for Constitutional Rights, has fought in and out of the courts on behalf of Maher Arar since filing Arar v. Ashcroft in 2004. The Supreme Court denied the appeal in 2010, thereby ending the legal case.
Amnesty International in communication with CCR continue to seek compensatory damages on Arar’s behalf and also formal apology declaring that the actions of the US government were illegal and violated Arar’s constitutional, civil, and international human rights.
Maher Arar has since continued to be a human rights activist. Last year Maher launched PRISM, an online non-profit magazine focusing on human rights and national security issues. Maher participates in speaking events, writes articles and blog posts on human rights issues, including the demonstrations against the regime in Syria.
Years later however, Maher continues to be affected by the refusal of the U.S. to issue a formal apology, which prevents him from being able to enter the United States as well as many other countries .
TAKE ACTION ON BEHALF OF MAHER: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=15496