We are writing this letter to denounce in the strongest of terms the leak of secret information about Abousfian Abdelrazik, which led to two La Presse articles being published that link Abdelrazik to claims that have already been shown to be false.
Many of us in Fredericton had the pleasure to hear first hand from Abdelrazik of his struggles when he visited Fredericton, New Brunswick, in September 2009. He gave a public talk on September 29 to a packed auditorium at the University of New Brunswick. Based on the reports that followed, we are aware that he impressed and inspired those who attended. One woman stopped Abdelrazik on the street to say that she was ashamed of the way that our government was treating him.
The timing of this smear campaign coincides with Abdelrazik’s application to get off the UN 1267 list. Abdelrazik submitted an application for delisting to the UN committee that oversees the list in January 2011. At the time of the publication of the two articles, Abdelrazik’s application was in the last stages of the review process and moving into the final, decision-making phase, in which Security Council members examine a report written by the 1267 regime’s Ombudsperson and decide whether or not to remove his name from the list. A decision could be made in days, weeks or months.
At this sensitive time, someone gave La Presse a secret document, written by CSIS for Transport Canada seven years ago, containing allegations against Abdelrazik. The Federal Court had earlier found those same allegations to be unproven; Transport Canada had not taken them seriously; and, in fall 2007, CSIS and RCMP told the Canadian government that they had no information against Abdelrazik.
Furthermore, the UN Ombudsperson had, just weeks before the leak, asked Canada if it knew of any reasons why Abdelrazik should remain on the blacklist, and had been informed, again, that CSIS could provide no information indicating that he should remain on the list. Finally, the leak was illegal and the same story had already been leaked in June 2007. Despite all of this, national and international media did not do their homework and ran with stories based on the allegations already proven to be false.
Abousfian categorically denies the many vicious allegations that were made against him in the media.
We hope that this media smear campaign will not negatively impact the outcome of Abdelrazik’s bid for freedom.
Although the leak was illegal, neither CSIS nor RCMP have made any moves to investigate it.
Besides asking to be removed from the list, Abdelrazik is also challenging the legal basis of the 1267 list, which violates numerous human rights enshrined in Canadian law (see legal motion at www.peoplescommission.org/files/abousfianMedia/1267Application.pdf). Successful legal challenges have already been mounted in UK and European courts. Abdelrazik’s legal challenge may come to court as early as this fall, but a date has not yet been set for hearings.
Meanwhile, life under sanctions makes life very difficult for Abdelrazik. He has not been able to work for years. Child assistance benefits owed to him by the Québec government are still being withheld. Last month, the Régie des rentes finally sent the money owing to Abdelrazik to his bank account but his bank promptly returned it to the Régie des rentes, demanding a certificate from the Department of Foreign Affairs, just as the Régie had done five months earlier.
We fully support Abdelrazik’s struggle for justice including accountability for the illegal leak of information, his immediate removal from the UN 1267 list and his legal challenge against the UN 1267 list.