Saturday, March 17, 2007

Arar warns Canadians to guard our civil liberties

Arar seems to have made this speech in Red Deer. It is good that he is speaking out at a few places now. I gather he has been having difficulty adjusting since being back in Canada. He still has no job I gather but his wife is working at least. With his settlement he wont need a job unless he wants one!

Arar: Guard your civil liberties

By The Canadian Press

RED DEER, Alta. — Canadians must not take their civil liberties for granted, says Maher Arar.

"Choosing to be complacent could result in losing our cultural values and risk the security of our citizens," Arar told a college audience Wednesday night.

The Ottawa software developer was imprisoned and tortured for a year in Syria after being sent there by U.S. authorities, who believed false RCMP information that labelled him an Islamic extremist. Arar was exonerated by the O’Connor commission of inquiry into his ordeal.

Arar said his reputation has been tarnished by the affair and the impact of his imprisonment and torture has been devastating.

"My life was destroyed. My reputation damaged. My health has deteriorated," he said in answer to a question about why he sued the Canadian government.

Arar was awarded $10.5 million compensation by the Canadian government and $1 million to cover his legal costs. He has also received a public apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper for any role by the government.

At a brief news conference following his lecture, Arar said that nearly four years after his release, he still struggles with the issue of trust.

"This matter of trust is one of the psychological issues I have to deal with," he said. "I am better today than I was four years ago."

Arar, his wife and family are now living in Kamloops, B.C.

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