The imprisonment took place under the Chretien Liberal government, and the men were never charged with any terror offences.
A report from CTV reveals that the federal government has paid a combined $31.3 million to three men who were tortured and imprisoned in Syria after being “wrongfully accused of links to terrorism.”
One of the men was tortured so severely in Syria that he was “covered in blood and unable to walk.”
The men, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin, had filed $100 million lawsuits against the federal government in relation to events that took place when the Chretien Liberals were in power.
As noted in the report, “A 2008 inquiry led by a former Supreme Court justice determined that federal officials contributed to the men’s torture by sharing important information with international agencies. Foreign Affairs, CSIS and the RCMP were found to have made mistakes in connection with the cases, the inquiry found.”
The Harper government led efforts to address the actions undertaken while the Chretien Liberals were in power, and in 2009 the House of Commons Public Safety Committee had issued recommendations calling for a government apology and the provision of compensation to the terribly mistreated individuals.
Additionally, “MPs on the committee also pushed for the government to do “everything necessary” to clear the men’s names and delete the false allegations from national security agencies’ records.”
Similar to Arar case, very different than Khadr
It’s important to note that this is very different than the Khadr case. With Khadr, he had been imprisoned for a tangible action – the killing of American military medic Christopher Speer. Khadr was imprisoned by a democratic ally, not the brutal Syrian regime. He also confessed to throwing the grenade that killed Speer, and did so under a situation that did not include torture, unlike what happened to Almalki, El Maati, and Nureddin.
Additionally, the Trudeau Liberals made a choice to compensate Khadr despite the government having already fulfilled any legal “duty” to him by repatriating him. Furthermore, the Trudeau government paid Khadr in such a way that the widow of Christopher Speer was denied any chance to stop the payout.
So, people are looking at this as a very different situation.
The horrible situation faced by the three falsely imprisoned men is far more similar to what happened to Maher Arar, who was compensated under the Harper government after he was tortured and imprisoned in Syria due in part from false information the government provided.
While there could be debates over the level of compensation, those who are falsely imprisoned and tortured certainly deserve compensation from the government.
Of note, all these cases took place when Liberals were in power, a fact that the current Liberals in power now often attempt to obscure.
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