Maher Arar’s personal associations and travel history are enough to keep him on a U.S. security watch list, says a senior State Department official.
While Washington concedes these points may not warrant Arar’s presence on a Canadian security roster, they meet the threshold for the American list, the official told The Canadian Press.
The source, who asked not to be identified, stressed the information about Arar does not justify his 2002 deportation to Syria, where he was tortured into false confessions of involvement with the al-Qaida terrorist network.
But it provides some insight into why the United States has resisted pressure from Canada to expunge Arar’s name from its lookout and no-fly lists.
American officials recently gave Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day a look at the information they say warrants Arar’s continued presence on U.S. watch lists.
Day insisted there was nothing to suggest Arar is a security risk.
U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins said it was presumptuous of Day to tell the United States who is allowed into its country. Wilkins was under orders from Washington to deliver the retort, said the State Department official.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised Friday to continue to press the Americans on the file. “We will not drop the matter,” he said.
The Americans could simply be stubbornly refusing to admit making a mistake on their end--if for no other reason than to avoid getting caught up in a similar payout. Buying off terror suspects, even exonerated ones, won't play well in the press or electorate there.
Or maybe, just maybe, there's still good reason to keep an eye on him.
Being not guilty of X doesn't mean being innocent of Y.
Source: National Post