John Baglow

Another marooned Canadian

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Meet Abousfian Abdelrazik, yet another beige victim of the Canadian government's subservience to US interests. He joined the ranks of Maher Arar and Omar Khadr as an unwilling exile nearly five years ago, but only this year has his story been told, thanks to the Globe and Mail's Paul Koring, who's been all over this case like a tiger for months now.

Abdelrazik's story began in August 2003, a few weeks after he had arrived in Sudan to visit his ailing mother. On Canada's request (as classified documents bear out) he was snatched off the streets of Khartoum and
imprisoned by the kindly folks who brought us the Darfur genocide. He was tortured, and he was interrogated by CSIS operatives who suspected him of having links to al-Qaeda.

Abdelrazik, now in poor health, is presently living in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, having been granted "temporary safe haven" by the Harper government on April 22. He is unable to return home, although he desperately wants to. Why? Because he found himself on a UN "no-fly" list, placed there at the request of an unidentified country:

He remains on international and Canadian “no-fly” lists because some unidentified country – likely the United States or France – blocked Canada's effort to have him removed from the UN Security Council al-Qaeda blacklist.

Getting blacklisted on the so-called 1267 list, named for the UN Security Council Resolution originally co-sponsored by Canada, is easy. Any UN-member country can finger a suspect. Getting off is almost impossible and once listed all UN countries are required to seize the assets of any individual and enforce a travel ban, although returning home is explicitly permitted. [Emphasis mine--DD]

Canada claims officially that he's welcome to come home, but the government has used every means to keep him from doing so, invoking the "no-fly" list (despite the exemption noted above), refusing to issue him a new passport--even preventing the Sudanese authorities from flying him back, and then lying about it.

Abdelrazik has never been charged with anything, but that doesn't matter to the folks wielding power in the post-9/11 panic era. Even the Sudanese government finally exonerated him of terrorist involvement, on July 20, 2007--and the US government helpfully picked up the slack by labeling him a terrorist threat on the very same day and putting him on a "no-fly" list of its own.

(As an aside, a "no-fly" list makes very little sense as a concept. Do we not have the technology and other resources to search an individual thoroughly before he boards a plane?)

A Canadian federal judge was recently asked to rule on the matter of Abdelrazik's considerable legal expenses to date. In a frankly disgraceful comment from the bench, Madam Justice Anne Mactavish told him to hit up his Muslim supporters, his family or Amnesty International if he needed money to pay the bills.

Recall that these expenses were not of his making. He would be home this moment if it hadn't been for the complicity of the Canadian government, both in his original jailing and torture, and now in its refusal to get him back to Canada.

As revealed in a new Koring story today, Canada will not fly him back because it might offend the Americans. Isabelle Desmartis, director of security policy for Transport Canada, and Debra Normoyle, director-general of security and emergency preparedness at Transport Canada, stated in a classified memo on April 30, 2008, that:

Transport Canada and other senior Government of Canada officials should be mindful of the potential reaction of our U.S. counterparts to Abdelrazik's return to Canada as he is on the U.S. No-Fly List and the Department of Treasury's Specially Designated Nationals and blocked Persons.

Odette Gaudet-Fee, a senior Foreign Affairs official in Ottawa, fussed back in May, 2005 that Abdelrazik "has reached the end of his rope, he has no money, no future, very little freedom and no hope. Should this case break wide open in the media, we may have a lot to explaining to do."

You betcha. Keep chewing, Mr. Koring.

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This page contains a single entry by John Baglow published on July 24, 2008 10:56 AM.

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