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Abousfian Abdelrazik speaks about his six-year ordeal in Sudan during an Ottawa news conference on July 23, 2009. (BLAIR GABLE/Reuters)
Abousfian Abdelrazik speaks about his six-year ordeal in Sudan during an Ottawa news conference on July 23, 2009. (BLAIR GABLE/Reuters)

Abdelrazik's lawyers pressing court to hold Cannon accountable Add to ...

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon should be held personally accountable for "malfeasance in office," lawyers for Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen imprisoned and tortured in Sudan, will argue on Monday in Federal Court.

Mr. Cannon repeatedly promised Mr. Abdelrazik a passport to get home and then repeatedly rescinded that promise until a Federal Court judge ruled the minister had violated the constitution by thwarting the rights of a citizen to return home. Even after complying with the order, Mr. Cannon, who labelled Mr. Abdelrazik a threat to national security, has declined to offer any explanation.

"Cannon committed misfeasance in public office, intentionally inflicted mental harm on the Plaintiff [Mr. Abdelrazik]and violated" constitutional rights, according to pleadings filed in Federal Court in advance of today's hearing.

Catherine Loubier, the minister's communication's director, said Mr. Cannon had no comment about the allegations because the case was before the courts.

The government wants the case tossed out, saying that even if Mr. Abdelrazik was thrown in prison in Sudan at the request of Canadian agents, Canadian law does not protect him overseas. Justice Department lawyers also say there is no case unless Canadian agents personally tortured Mr. Abdelrazik and contend that Mr. Cannon cannot be held personally accountable for his actions as a minister.

"It's all an attempt to delay and derail the process," said Yavar Hameed, one of a small team of lawyers who have worked on the case without pay for years.

Mr. Abdelrazik's suit says Mr. Cannon "deliberately acted in an unlawful manner" and thus can be held accountable.

Today's hearing in Ottawa before Federal Court prothonotary Roza Aronovitch is only to argue whether the case can go forward, not to determine the merits of the suit. Mr. Abdelrazik spent nearly six years in prison and forced exiled before a federal court ordered the government to allow him to return to his family in Montreal. He is suing the federal government for $27-million, an amount which - if awarded - would dwarf the record payout of $10-million given Maher Arar for Canada's involvement in his rendition to Syria by the United States.

In the Arar case, the RCMP falsely identified him as a risk to U.S. anti-terrorism agents but played no role in his rendition to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured. In Mr. Abdelrazik case, it was Canadian agents apparently involved in his arrest in Sudan. They also interrogated him in prison in Khartoum and - Mr. Abdelrazik lawyers argue - knew he would be tortured. After his release, Mr. Abdelrazik was marooned in Sudan with no passport. After The Globe published an account of his plight in 2008, he was allowed into the Canadian embassy in Khartoum where he spent more than a year living in the lobby.

In a stunning judgment last year -not challenged by the government - Mr. Justice Russel Zinn of the Federal Court found that Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents were complicit in Mr. Abdelrazik arrest and imprisonment in Sudan, a country so notorious for its human-rights abuses that its President, Omar al-Bashir, is under international indictment for war crimes and genocide.

"Canada asked a foreign state with a horrendous human rights record to imprison a Canadian citizen without charge," Mr. Abdelrazik's lawyers argue. He was "detained without trial for years, and was tortured."

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