U.S. Denies Canada's Terror Watch-List Request

The Bush administration formally refused the Canadian government's request to remove Maher Arar from a terrorist watch list.

In 2002, Arar was en route to Canada when he was detained by U.S. officials in New York and sent to Syria, where he was imprisoned for more than a year and endured severe beatings.

At the time, Arar, a Syrian-born software engineer, was living in Ottawa, Canada. Maria LaHood, one of Arar's attorneys, says her client is a victim of extraordinary rendition — where terrorism suspects are sent to third countries for interrogation.

An exhaustive investigation by Canadian officials found that Arar had no terrorist ties; he has been completely cleared by the Canadian government.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff sent a letter to Stockwell Day, Canada's minister of public safety, in which they said they have other information about Arar that led them to their decision to keep him on the list.

The three men sat down to review the information on Arar. Later, at a press conference, Day said there was "nothing new" in the U.S. dossier on Arar that would justify keeping him on a terrorist watch list.

For his part, Arar says he'd like the U.S. government to acknowledge its mistakes.

"An apology would be basically on my wish list," Arar said. "Given the history of the U.S. government, it is unlikely this will happen."

Canada's Day says he will continue to press the United States to remove Arar from the watch list.

But David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said, "It's a little presumptuous of Day to say who the U.S. can and cannot allow into our country."

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