More than 60,000 people signed a petition delivered to the White House yesterday calling on President Barack Obama to issue a formal apology to US rendition victim Maher Arar.
In September 2002 Maher was traveling home to Canada from a family holiday in Tunis. His flight transited New York’s JFK airport where he was pulled aside by US immigration officials and detained.
Maher was targeted because he had been briefly seen in the company of an individual, Abdullah Almaki, who was a peripheral ‘person of interest’ in a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) investigation. The Canadians shared this titbit of intelligence with their US allies who took it and ran with it.
There doesn’t seem to have been any meaningful investigation of Maher’s relationship with Almaki. In fact, their only connection was that Maher had once worked in a Canadian technology firm with Almaki’s brother.
This was a simple case of guilt by association, even though, it should be emphasized, the Canadian authorities didn’t even have any real evidence against Almaki either.