CSIS wanted gov't to leave Arar in Syria: memo

Maher Arar

Canadian Press
Updated: Fri. Jun. 3 2005 11:36 PM ET

OTTAWA — Newly released documents indicate Canada's spy agency wanted the federal government to leave Maher Arar in Syria.

A draft Foreign Affairs memo says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service "made it clear to the department that they would prefer to have him remain in Syria, rather than return to Canada."

The document, dated June 24, 2003, was released as former solicitor general Wayne Easter testified at the inquiry into the Ottawa engineer's deportation, year-long incarceration and alleged torture.

Easter oversaw both the RCMP and CSIS at the time Arar was grabbed by U.S. authorities during a stopover in New York and shipped to Syria in October 2002.

Various officials from both Syria and the United States - including former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell and the Syrian ambassador to Canada - subsequently suggested that CSIS didn't want Arar returned to Canada.

Easter steadfastly maintains he presumed Arar's innocence throughout the episode, but felt it was outside his jurisdiction to formally correct the record with his counterparts in Washington and Damascus.

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