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Fresh off terror list, Abdelrazik blasts Ottawa for abandonment

Abousfian Abdelrazik listens to supporters at a Montreal news conference celebrating his removal from a UN terror watchlist on Dec. 1, 2011

Paul Chiasson/Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Abousfian Abdelrazik spoke his first words as a free man to thank Canadians and slam the Canadian government, whom he accused of abandoning him.

Mr. Abdelrazik, a Montreal resident and Canadian citizen, scored a victory on Wednesday after getting removed from a United Nations Security Council terrorist blacklist.

He said that the federal government owes him an apology.

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"You abandoned me for seven years – and you caused me all this suffering," he said Thursday at a Montreal news conference, surrounded by his legal counsel and supporters. "You made my life and my children's life very miserable."

"Now I am a free person. Not because of your support, but because of the support of Canadians. Now I wish you realize this fact.... [and]do the right things you were supposed to do a long time ago."

The delisting ends nearly a decade-long period that kept the Sudanese-born Canadian in forced exile and cast a shadow over his name.

Mr. Abdelrazik has long asserted he was not an al-Qaeda operative and denied Harper government assertions he was a national security risk.

Troubles for the 49-year-old machinist began during a 2003 trip to see his ailing mother in Sudan. He ended up being jailed and tortured but was never charged.

He was left in limbo after his passport expired and he spent 14 months living on a cot at the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum after Ottawa refused to issue him travel documents.

Mr. Abdelrazik's lawyer, Paul Champ, said he hoped the international community would push to end the UN blacklist, which he compared to the methods used under McCarthyism and the totalitarian regimes of the former Soviet bloc.

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Many innocent people who haven't benefitted from the same support network as Mr. Abdelrazik remain on the list, Mr. Champ said.

"Secret lists" based on "secret evidence" must come to an end, he told the press conference. Mr. Abdelrazik returned to Canada after a federal court ruled in 2009 that the government had violated his constitutional rights. The court ruled that Canadian Security and Intelligence Service agents were complicit in his imprisonment abroad.

His supporters helped raise money to a plane ticket back to Canada after Ottawa refused to pay for his return.

The Canadian government didn't help in the delisting process and remained officially neutral in Mr. Abdelrazik's case.

Wednesday's decision also lifts the freeze on Mr. Abdelrazik's financial assets and means he can travel outside Canada, although he remains on a U.S. no-fly list.

Mr. Abdelrazik still has a $27-million lawsuit pending against the federal government and former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon.

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