Last week the Canadian government issued an unusualwarning for many of its citizens: beware of travelingin the United States.
The travel advisory was directed toward Canadiancitizens born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan,Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Yemen.
The advisory came after the U.S. secretly detained aman who is both a Canadian and Syrian citizen in NewYork.
On September 26, the man, Maher Arar was in JFKairport on a stopover flight from Tunisia to Montreal.Arar was detained and interrogated for nine hourswithout a lawyer. Officials claimed Arar had ties to aterrorist organization. Arar was then detained at theMetropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
No one heard from him until Oct. 3 when Arar made adesperate and emotional phone call to hismother-in-law telling her that he had been jailed andneeded help. None of his relatives have heard from himsince.
Around October 10, US officials deported him. He wassent first to Jordan and then to Syria where he hasnot lived in 14 years. He is now being held in aSyrian prison. His family was never informed. Canadianofficials were not informed but have met with Arar inSyria. His family have been denied contact.
While the Canadian government has backed away from itstravel advisory, the family of Maher Arar are stillfighting for his release and to learn what hashappened.
Meanwhile the Justice Department announced Wednesdaythat thousands of men from five countries identifiedas high risk for terrorism and who arrived in theUnited States on or before Sept. 10 must befingerprinted and photographed.
The rules are part of the National Security Entry/ExitRegistration System implemented by Attorney GeneralAshcroft and the Justice department. Men over 16 yearsof age from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sudan will bespecifically targeted.
- Monia Mazigh, wife of Maher Arar who isdetained in Syria
- Riad Saloojee, executive director of theCouncil on American-Islamic Relations Canada
- Michael Ratner, executive director ofCenter for Constitutional Rights