Canadian Government in squabble over torture secrets
OTTAWA — A dispute rages over secret portions of an inquiry report on the overseas torture of three Canadians one year after release of the document, which criticizes the actions of security agencies.
Federal and commission lawyers are still squabbling about portions of the 544-page report the government balked at making public, citing national security concerns.
In his report released one year ago Wednesday, former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci found Canadian officials contributed to the torture of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin by sharing information – including unfounded accounts – with foreign agencies.
The three men, all of whom deny involvement in terrorism, were abused in grave-like Syrian prison cells. El Maati was tortured by Egyptian captors as well.
Iacobucci produced two editions of his report: one confidential version for government eyes only, and a second that was released publicly.
But a small portion of the public report – Iacobucci says it amounts to a page or two – was held back because the government argued it could compromise security.
“The information that forms the exception is, in my view, directly relevant to my mandate and should be disclosed to the public,” the former judge said in his report.
The public version makes it clear the material under wraps would shed new light on actions by Canadian officials that likely contributed to the torture of El Maati in Egypt.
Iacobucci has already said that El Maati’s mistreatment resulted indirectly from several “deficient” actions: the RCMP’s sharing of information, attempts by the Mounties to interview the former truck driver in Egypt, and an expression of concern by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about El Maati and his activities if he were to be released.
Iacobucci told reporters at the time he would go to Federal Court to try to dislodge the still-secret material if negotiations did not succeed. “It’s just something that I think should be in the public report.”
A year later, those talks continue, say lawyers for the Iacobucci commission and the government.
“We’ve had several further rounds of discussions and the ball hasn’t landed yet,” said inquiry counsel John Laskin.
The talks are so sensitive that Laskin said he didn’t want to “poison the well” by saying anything further.
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