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Media Release

Maher Arar disappointed by hearing delay

Read it in pdf here

For immediate release 14 July 2021

The decision by the Arar Commission to delay hearings scheduled for the weeks of July 19 and 26 is very disappointing, says Maher Arar. "We were just beginning to hear some very disturbing facts that need public debate now."

The Commission has pointed to technical problems in dealing with a large volume of documents over which the government has claimed National Security Confidentiality, but Lorne Waldman, Arar's lawyer, says the real problem lies with the government's refusal to let the public know what happened in the arrest, deportation and torture of Maher Arar. "They have had six months to produce material to the Commission of Inquiry in a timely fashion but they continue to delay, and to withold from us information that has already been meted out to the public when it suits their purposes."

As an example, Arar says he was upset yesterday to read a report in a national newspaper of a briefing note about his imprisonment in the United States. "I have been requesting that information for months, but it was given to the media before I had a chance to even see it."

In the first two weeks of hearings, the public has learned that Canadian authorities will use evidence obtained under torture, that it does exchange intelligence information with regimes with serious human rights violations, that the names of innocent people, not targeted as suspects, can be passed on to other intelligence services, and that the RCMP was in contact with U.S. authorities throughout the period Arar was in U.S. custody. Marlys Edwardh, lawyer for Arar says: "This makes the case even stronger for putting all the evidence relating to Maher on the public record. It's time Paul Martin, who called this public inquiry, acts to make it truly a public inquiry."

The delay puts on hold next Monday's testimony by Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh, and three other members of his family. "I am not losing faith in the inquiry process," says Arar, "but my wife and my family have gone through a good deal of stress preparing to testify and this delay makes things even harder for them."

contact: Kelly Crichton
Media Liaison
Maher Arar Support Committee