Feds to compensate Canadians tortured in Syria

Abdullah Almalki (right), Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati arrive at a news conference in a 2008 file photo. A federal inquiry has concluded the actions of Canadian officials contributed indirectly to the torture of the three Arab-Canadian men in Syria. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Abdullah Almalki (right), Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati arrive at a news conference in a 2008 file photo. A federal inquiry has concluded the actions of Canadian officials contributed indirectly to the torture of the three Arab-Canadian men in Syria. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

by Tonda MacCharles, The Toronto Star

OTTAWA—The federal government will settle a lawsuit filed by three Muslim Canadian men who were jailed and tortured in Syria more than a decade ago with a formal apology, the removal of their names from Canada’s “no-fly” list and a multimillion-dollar compensation package, the Star has learned.

An announcement could come as early as next week.

A settlement of their $100-million claim for damages would be the final dramatic chapter in a troubling and long-running post-9/11 saga.

Abdullah Almalki of Ottawa, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, of Toronto, suffered separate ordeals at the hands of Syrian interrogators, acting in part on questions the Mounties passed on. In El Maati’s case, he was transferred and endured additional torture in an Egyptian jail.

Their cases never got the attention the other high-profile post-Sept. 11 torture case of Maher Arar drew. That’s in part because a judicial inquiry into their torture was conducted in secret with a narrower mandate — ostensibly to speed up the probe — than the lengthy public inquiry into the Arar affair. There were no daily hearings or parade of witnesses with disturbing testimony.

In 2008, retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci concluded that Canadian officials indirectly contributed to the mistreatment and torture of all three men by sharing information with foreign intelligence and police agencies, including sending questions to Syrian authorities which prolonged their nightmares. Read more.

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