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Maher Arar: Time's Canadian Newsmaker of 2004


C.T.V. News, Dec. 19, 2004

Photo: Maher Arar (Courtesy of Time magazine)

According to the Canadian edition of Time magazine, the Ottawa man sent from New York to a Syrian prison on allegations of links to terrorism was this country's top newsmaker in 2004.

Syrian-born Maher Arar was detained while in a New York airport back in September 2002, on suspicion of involvement with the al Qaeda terror network.

He was then deported to Syria, where he was allegedly tortured before his release last year.

'If Arar is a terrorist, he is unlike any other. In contrast with other suspects dispatched to harsh justice, Arar didn't vanish into oblivion in his Middle East cell. Nor, after his release, did he recoil from public view,' writes Time's Canadian Bureau Chief Steven Frank.

'Instead Arar, who has a modest home in Ottawa, has stepped into the spotlight, emerging as a vocal proponent of human rights in Canada, a symbol of how fear and injustice have permeated life in the West since 9/11.'

The magazine says it was Arar's persistence that earned an inquiry into his deportation, and the distinction of Canadian Newsmaker of the Year.

And, Frank writes, Arar also took the gutsy step of launching a pair of lawsuits targeting some of the most powerful people in North America - from former prime minister Jean Chretien to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.