Add to Technorati Favorites

Weekly Index
Research Sites

  • Features
  • Categories
  • Resources
  • About


Last 100 Entries
« Re-Landscaping the Slum | Main | Spatial Forces Index 2:4 Now Up »

Caught in Kafka's Landscape

Abousfian Abdelrazik is a Sudanese-Canadian dual citizen. A political refugee who fled to Canada in 1990, he became a Canadian citizen in 1995.  Canada, unlike the United States, does not have an official policy about citizenship, thus, one can easily be a dual citizen here.  His now ex-wife and child live in Montreal, where he had settled upon arrival.  He has a somewhat murky past: he knew Ahmed Ressam, the so-called "Millennium Bomber."  Ressam, an Algerian, settled in Montreal in the mid-1990s.  Abdelrazik testified via videolink at Ressam's trial; the latter is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence in the United States. 

In 2003, Abdelrazik returned to the Sudan, to visit his ailing mother.  But this is when things went awry.  The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) requested that the Sudanese government arrest him for alleged terrorist activity.  He alleges to have been interrogated by CSIS, who also refused to accompany him when the CIA interrogated him.  Whilst in prison, his wife divorced him and his Canadian passport expired.  He was released in 2004 by the Sudanese officials, who found no reason to hold him.  He was re-arrested in 2005, and then finally released in 2006.  Since then, he's been in legal limbo in Khartoum, unable to fly home.

He has been accused of being a high-level al Qaeda operative by the United States, and has ended up on no-fly lists world-wide.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have done a thorough background check of Abdelrazik and have found no basis to the claim he is al Qaeda.  CSIS, however, does not agree with this assessment. 

For the past year, Abdelrazik has been living in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, unable to fly home.  Canada refuses to issue him a passport.  Initially, the Canadian government informed him that he could not fly home due to his presence on the no-fly lists.  Since then, Canada has petitioned the UN Security Council to remove his name.  One anonymous member, presumably the Bush-era United States, refused.  Then Canada informed Abdelrazik that if he could find an airline to fly him, it would issue him a temporary passport.  This came after the Canadian government refused the Sudanese government's offer to fly him home.  Then Eithad Airways agreed to fly him from Khartoum to Montréal.

So now, the Canadian government has imposed a new condition.  Now Abdelrazik must pay for his ticket up front before a temporary passport will be issued.  However, given that he is living in the Canadian embassy, it is clear that Abdelrazik has no money.  The Canadian embassy in Khartoum has also made it clear that anyone lending him the money to fly home will be prosecuted.  The embassy could itself pay for his ticket under Canadian law.  So far, it has refused to do so.

This is rather typical of the Canadian government, I'm afraid, refusing to help Canadian citizens accused of terrorism abroad.  There is the example of Omar Khadr, the only Western citizen sitting in Gitmo.  There is also the (in)famous case of Maher Arar.  In this case, at least, the Canadian government has apologised and made a cash settlement with Arar.  Today's Globe & Mail, also reports on the case of three other men arrested and tortured overseas who are suing the Canadian government.

The issue here is not whether or not these men are guilty of the crimes they have been accused of, and so far nothing suggests that they are, with the exception of Khadr. The issue here is the unwillingness of the Canadian government to aid its citizens caught in a legal nightmare abroad.  And I find that rather frightening.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>