Khadr pay­out has set trou­bling prece­dent

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - OPINION -

An Al­ge­rian man for­merly in­car­cer­ated at Guan­tanamo Bay is su­ing the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment for al­leged torture at the hands of U.S. se­cu­rity forces.

Djamel Ameziane is seek­ing dam­ages of $50 mil­lion on the grounds Cana­dian of­fi­cials co-op­er­ated with Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts while know­ing he was be­ing abused.

Specif­i­cally, Cana­dian of­fi­cials in­ter­viewed him in the fa­mous prison and passed the ma­te­rial over to the Amer­i­cans.

Ameziane was held in Gitmo for 11 years un­til his re­lease in 2013. He was never charged or con­victed for any crime.

It’s all sounds sim­i­lar to the facts be­hind the $10.5 mil­lion Omar Khadr pay­out. But here’s the catch: Ameziane, un­like Khadr, is not a Cana­dian ci­ti­zen.

His only Cana­dian con­nec­tion is liv­ing here, in Mon­treal, in the 1990s for five years. He sought refugee sta­tus, which was ul­ti­mately de­nied.

Both be­fore and af­ter he was de­tained, he lived in nu­mer­ous other coun­tries.

While in Mon­treal, ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can of­fi­cials, he at­tended a mosque fre­quented by mem­bers of al-Qaida.

Ameziane is not su­ing the Amer­i­cans. He’s not su­ing any­thing other coun­try. He’s just su­ing Canada.

Why? Well, he’s of­fered an ex­pla­na­tion:

Ameziane is not su­ing the Amer­i­cans ... He’s just su­ing Canada.”

“For many years, I had the idea of su­ing the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, but didn’t know how, and hon­estly didn’t know it was pos­si­ble un­til I read the news about the set­tle­ment of Omar Khadr, who was my fel­low in­mate in Guan­tanamo Bay.”

There you have it. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s pre­ma­ture set­tle­ment with Khadr in­spired Ameziane to seek his own pot of Cana­dian gold.

And ac­cord­ing to Nate Whitling, lawyer for both Ameziane and Khadr, two more men will soon be com­ing for­ward with sim­i­lar suits.

On July 6, shortly af­ter Canada Day, we learned the Lib­er­als de­cided to give Khadr $10.5 mil­lion. At the time, Trudeau ar­gued this was a cost-sav­ing mea­sure.

“I’m con­cerned about the money as well, which as I said is why we set­tled,” he told me­dia, ex­plain­ing he be­lieved the gov­ern­ment would ul­ti­mately fight and lose more in court.

But clearly Trudeau’s de­ci­sion has had the op­po­site ef­fect.

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