Canada actions likely led to Syrian torture: report

Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:26pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian security services probably contributed indirectly to the torture in Syria of three Arab Canadians who had been suspected of involvement in terrorist activities, an official inquiry found on Tuesday.

Frank Iacobucci, who headed the commission that conducted the inquiry, concluded after interviewing the men that they had been tortured through a variety of means, including beatings with electric cables, burning with cigarettes and being kicked in the genitals.

"Torture is a pernicious practice that is just beyond any kind of defense," said Iacobucci, a former Supreme Court judge.

Even so, he found that Canadian officials appeared to have been acting conscientiously in trying to defend Canada at a difficult time just after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The government-appointed inquiry covered the cases of Canadian-Egyptian Ahmad El Maati, Canadian-Syrian Abdullah Almalki and Canadian-Iraqi Muayyed Nureddin, who were arrested separately when entering Syria between 2001 and 2003.

They said some of the questions they were asked there were based on information that could only have come from Canada.

Iacobucci said mistreatment of the men did not result directly from any Canadian action but Canadian officials indirectly led to the torture of El Maati and Almalki and likely also to that of Nureddin. He concluded El Maati had also been tortured in Egypt.

The judge also concluded that Canadian actions likely contributed to Syria's detention of El Maati and Nureddin.   Continued...

<p>Ahmad El Maati (R) speaks during a news conference with Abdullah Almalki (L) and Muayyed Nureddin in Ottawa October 21, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>