CSIS trip to Egypt likely led to abuse of Toronto man: re­port


OTTAWA — Cana­dian in­tel­li­gence agents went to Egypt to get in­for­ma­tion about a Toronto man and likely con­trib­uted to his abuse by au­thor­i­ties there, newly re­leased doc­u­ments say.

The pre­vi­ously un­known visit by CSIS of­fi­cers be­came pub­lic Tues­day as a fed­eral com­mis­sion dis­closed once-se­cret pages of an in­quiry re­port on the over­seas tor­ture of Ah­mad El Maati and two other Arab-Cana­di­ans.

The Harper gov­ern­ment and com­mis­sion lawyers squab­bled for more than a year about the sen­si­tive por­tions of the re­port, which the gov­ern­ment balked at mak­ing pub­lic due to na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns.

In his re­port re­leased in Oc­to­ber 2008, for­mer Supreme Court jus­tice Frank Ia­cobucci found that Cana­dian of­fi­cials were likely partly to blame for the tor­ture of El Maati, Ab­dul­lah Al­malki and Muayyed Nured­din by shar­ing in­for­ma­tion — in­clud­ing un­founded ac­counts of ex­trem­ism — with for­eign agen­cies.

The men, all of whom deny in­volve­ment in ter­ror­ism, were abused in Syr­ian prison cells. El Maati, 45, was tor­tured by Egyp­tian cap­tors as well.

At a news con­fer­ence Tues­day, the for­mer truck driver told of be­ing blind­folded, hand­cuffed and zapped in the hands, back and gen­i­tals with elec­tric shocks. The tor­ture left El Maati barely able to walk a city block. He has un­der­gone sev­eral op­er­a­tions.

“My whole life is com­pletely de­stroyed,” he said. “I need an apol­ogy. They ru­ined my life, I can’t work any­more now.”

El Maati, a dual Cana­dian-Egyp­tian ci­ti­zen, was ar­rested in Novem­ber 2001 upon arriving in Syria, where fam­ily and friends planned to cel­e­brate his mar­riage.

In­stead, he spent over two months at the no­to­ri­ous Far Falestin prison in Da­m­as­cus.

False con­fes­sions El Maati made un­der tor­ture were used to ob­tain search war­rants in Canada. He was trans­ferred to Egypt in Jan­uary 2002, lan­guish­ing an­other two years in “de­grad­ing and in­hu­mane con­di­tions,” Ia­cobucci found.

In Tues­day’s re­port, the for­mer judge says CSIS sent a mes­sage to Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties in June 2002 ask­ing whether El Maati was in their cus­tody without tak­ing into ac­count how that would af­fect “the man­ner in which he might be treated.”

“This mes­sage stated, among other things, that Mr. El Maati might pos­si­bly have been in­volved in a plan to com­mit a ter­ror­ist act in Canada.”

Wit­nesses from both CSIS and the RCMP told the in­quiry it was not the re­spon­si­bil­ity of in­tel­li­gence or law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials to be con­cerned about the hu­man rights of a Cana­dian de­tainee.

They said that was the sole con­sid­er­a­tion of For­eign Af­fairs.

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