A Montreal man who believes Canada’s spy agency had a hand in keeping him behind bars in Khartoum is pressing the Sudanese government for documentation about his case.
Abousfian Abdelrazik, flanked by about a dozen supporters, hand-delivered a letter Monday to the Embassy of Sudan in Ottawa seeking records that might reveal the full role Canada played in his ordeal.
Abdelrazik, 51, also wants the Canadian government to disclose memos that would answer lingering questions, and to make amends for his overseas detention and torture over alleged terrorist ties.
“I’m waiting for (an) apology,” he told a crowd huddled outside the embassy in a residential neighbourhood just east of Parliament Hill.
Abdelrazik, who denies involvement in terrorism, came from Africa as a refugee in 1990 and attained Canadian citizenship five years later.
He was arrested but not charged during a 2003 visit to see his ailing mother in Sudan.
Abdelrazik says that while he was in Sudanese custody, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service interrogated him about suspected extremist links.
He also claims he was tortured by Sudanese intelligence officials during two stints in detention, but Canada says it knew nothing of the alleged abuse.
Days after Abdelrazik’s second release from prison, in July 2006, his name turned up on a United Nations Security Council blacklist that prevented him from flying back to Canada.
Five years ago today he was granted haven in the Canadian consulate in Khartoum, but Canada refused to issue him a travel document to fly home. Amid intense publicity about his case, he returned to Montreal in June 2009.
That same month, the Federal Court of Canada concluded CSIS was complicit in Abdelrazik’s 2003 detention.
In September 2009, he sued the Canadian government for compensation, litigation that continues to grind its way through the courts.
Abdelrazik’s lawyer, Paul Champ, told supporters Monday the Canadian government has disclosed 8,000 documents totalling some 45,000 pages as part of the court proceedings.
“But over one-third is completely blacked out,” Champ said. “So a lot of the information is still secret.”
While Champ cannot publicly discuss the material that has been disclosed, he said it strengthens Abdelrazik’s case.
Champ believes CSIS told Sudan to continue holding Abdelrazik despite that country’s protestations it would violate his rights.
It’s a “sad day” when Sudan lectures Canada on human rights, Champ said.
Former CSIS director Jim Judd has insisted the spy service does not arrange for the arrest of Canadians overseas. In 2009, Judd asked a federal watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, to examine CSIS’s role in the Abdelrazik case.
The review committee said it would indeed look into the matter in direct response to a complaint lodged by Abdelrazik and his lawyers well before Judd’s request.
However, for reasons the committee refuses to explain, the study was never completed.
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