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$9 million for Syrian-born Canadian

The leader of one of America's closest allies in the war on terror today personally criticized the U.S. for the way it handled a Canadian citizen suspected by the U.S. of having terrorist connections.

Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, today sent a formal letter of apology to a Syrian-born Canadian, Maher Arar, who was detained in 2002 at Kennedy airport in New York on his way home from an overseas trip. U.S. officials determined he was a potential risk and deported him -- not to Canada but to Syria. Because he held dual citizenship, he was deportable to either country.


Arar claims, and a Canadian inquiry confirmed, that he was imprisoned in Syria for 10 months and brutally tortured. Canada says the U.S. decision to deport him was based in part on intelligence information provided by the Canadian government, which it has since said was erroneous.

Canada today offered Arar nearly $9 million in compensation, which his lawyer today said he'll likely accept. In making the announcement, Prime Minister Harper called on the U.S. to remove Arar from a no-fly list.

Last week, the U.S. declined to take that action. A letter signed by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said they believe "the continued watch listing of Mr. Arar is appropriate." They said that conclusion was reached independent of the intelligence provided earlier by Canada.

A report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general is due out within a month or so. Government officials who have seen a draft say it will be critical of the U.S. handling of the case.