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Abdelrazik pleads to clear his name: 'I want to live like a normal Canadian' Add to ...

Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen whose reputation remains tainted by ministerial accusations, wants his name restored and those Canadian security agents who aided his imprisonment in Sudan brought to justice.

"It is not over," he said. "I need my name removed as soon as possible from that list." He was referring to the United Nations Security Council blacklist of terrorist suspects known as the 1267 list, named for the resolution, co-sponsored by Canada, that created it. I want to "live my life like a normal person ... like a normal Canadian," Mr. Abdelrazik said.

In a wide-ranging and sometimes chilling account of six years of imprisonment and forced exile abroad, Mr. Abdelrazik recounted stories of interrogation and alleged torture. He told of Canadian Security and Intelligence Service agents laughingly saying "Sudan will be your Guantanamo" when he begged to be allowed to return home.

His ordeal - described as "Kafkaesque" by the federal court judge who ordered him repatriated - is far from ended.

But the Harper government made it clear yesterday that Mr. Abdelrazik couldn't expect any support in his efforts to remove his name from the UN list.

Foreign Minster Lawrence Cannon, in a letter delivered yesterday, told Mr. Abdelrazik to check out a UN website that explains delisting procedures for individuals. "I regret to inform you that I must decline your invitation to meet," the minister wrote.

It was Mr. Cannon who labelled Mr. Abdelrazik a threat to national security, in spite of the fact that he had been cleared by CSIS and the RCMP. Mr. Cannon made no mention of the fact that the Harper government had already sought - in December of 2007 - to have Mr. Abdelrazik delisted after the security agencies said they had knew of no reason not to back the request.

That delisting application was vetoed, apparently by the United States, which originally put him on the blacklist.

Although individuals can apply for "delisting," only governments can add people to the terrorist blacklist, and unless all 15 members of the Security Council agree to a delisting, it is denied. UN sources confirm that no one has ever been delisted without the backing of their government.

Mr. Abdelrazik is the only living Canadian on the list. The only other listed Canadian is Ahmed Khadr, who has been dead since 2003.

Mr. Abdelrazik, who has repeatedly - and under oath - denied any involvement in terrorism, restated those claims yesterday.

He point-by-point denied the allegations cited by the U.S. government in nominating him to the blacklist. They include that he fought in Chechnya, trained in a terrorist camp in Afghanistan, knew Osama bin Laden and was a key operative in al-Qaeda.

"I have never seen bin Laden in my entire life. ... I have never been to Chechnya," he said. He said he had never been to Afghanistan. "I have never hurt anyone in my life," Mr. Abdelrazik said in an impassioned 40-minute news conference on Parliament Hill. "I have never been involved in that sort of thing."

But he did offer an account of torture and abuse in Sudanese prisons, of CSIS agents allegedly laughing and telling him he would never see Canada again when they interrogated him in a Sudanese jail in October of 2003.

"Sudan will be your Guantanamo," he quoted one CSIS agent as telling him, a reference to the U.S. prison for terrorist suspects on a naval base in Cuba, where hundreds have been held - many in solitary confinement and without charge - for years.

Mr. Abdelrazik said one of the two CSIS interrogators was the same agent who questioned him at his home two days before he flew to Khartoum in March of 2003. Mr. Abdelrazik said he had called the Montreal police to get the CSIS agents to leave.

"One of them, he turned and said to me, 'You will see...' " he said.

Although CSIS denies it arranged for Mr. Abdelrazik to be imprisoned in Sudan, heavily redacted government documents say he was arrested "at our request," meaning Canada's.

After months in solitary with little food and occasional torture, he said one day his Sudanese jailers told him the "Canadian m uhabarat want to talk to me," using the feared Arabic term for secret police.

Mr. Abdelrazik says he was taken to a room with a table laden "with cakes and fruits and juice and bottles of water," but before he could say anything, one of the CSIS agents said, "Remember I told you in Montreal that 'You will see,' ... and now, you will see."

Mr. Abdelrazik said he begged to be allowed to go home and offered to face any charges the agents wanted to press.

"I am not going to help a terrorist," the CSIS agent replied, according to Mr. Abdelrazik. The agent added that Mr. Abdelrazik was "Sudanese, not a Canadian, and should stay in Sudan forever.

"My country doesn't need you," the CSIS agent said. After the two left, Mr. Abdelrazik said the worst period of torture and abuse began.

Mr. Abdelrazik's lawyer, Yavar Hameed, said it was too early to decide whether to seek an inquiry or an apology or compensation from the government.

"I want those people who played this role to face justice, because I don't want this to happen to another person," Mr. Abdelrazik said.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who has been mostly silent during the 16-month saga since Mr. Abdelrazik's plight became public, said yesterday that he backed "him being taken off the terrorist watch list."

However, the Liberals were in power when Mr. Abdelrazik says CSIS harassed him in Montreal and then interrogated him in Sudan. The prime minister at the time, Paul Martin, refused to meet him or bring him home when Mr. Martin visited Khartoum in December of 2004.

"The Abdelrazik case is not about Mr. Abdelrazik alone," Mr. Ignatieff said yesterday. "It's crucial that Canadians can count on a government to say Canadian citizenship is indivisible, we protect them all."

With a report from

Campbell Clark

 

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