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DOJ retreats from Gonzales disavowal of responsibility for Arar deportation

[JURIST] A US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] spokesman retreated Wednesday from comments [JURIST report] made earlier this week by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] on the case of Canadian Maher Arar [advocacy website; CBC timeline] in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the US was not responsible for his removal to Syria and that he was not aware Arar was tortured there. Charles Miller said Wednesday that Gonzales was just trying to make the point that the US Department of Homeland Security [official website] now handles deportation issues. The comments by Gonzales stirred controversy as they followed a report by a Canadian commission [official website] that cited public records documenting an order by the US to deport Arar to Syria from the US, where he was in transit from Tunisia on his way back home to Canada. The New York Times has more.

Meanwhile, the Canadian House of Commons [official website] Wednesday voted to apologize to Arar, but the Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] has so far refused to offer a formal apology on behalf of the country's Conservative government. The commission cited the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) [official website] for giving false evidence to the US linking Arar to terrorists, prompting the US decision to send him to Syria, where he was born. From Canada, CTV has local coverage.

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