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Canada opens probe into Syria torture claims

[JURIST] The Canadian government opened an official inquiry Wednesday into allegations by three Canadian citizens that Canadian security forces played a role in their arrest and alleged torture in Syria [JURIST news archive] between 2001 and 2004. Kuwaiti-born Ahmed Al Maati, Syrian-born Abdullah Almalki and Iraqi-born Muayyed Nureddin each claim they were detained and tortured [JURIST report] by Syrian military intelligence during trips abroad, with the complicit cooperation [Amnesty backgrounder, PDF] of Canadian officials. Former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci [official profile] plans to conduct most of the inquiry behind closed doors [Globe and Mail report] for national security reasons.

All three men were investigated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) [official website] for links to terrorism but were never arrested or had any restrictions placed on their movements while in Canada; all three were eventually freed and allowed to return to Canada. The men and Amnesty International Canada [advocacy website] say that besides clearing their names, a formal review of their cases is also necessary to restore confidence in the intelligence service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) [official website]. They say a probe should follow the model of the Arar Commission [official website], the official judicial inquiry into the circumstances under which Canadian Maher Arar [advocacy website; CBC timeline] was detained in the US in 2002 and removed to Syria where Arar says he was tortured. The Arar Commission found [JURIST report] that the US decision to arrest and deport Arar was "very likely" based on faulty, unfair and overstated information passed on by the RCMP. CBC News has more.

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