A man jailed for 14 years at Guantanamo Bay is suing the Canadian government for $35 million for their alleged role in the series of events leading up to his detention, during which he was tortured.
A lawsuit filed Friday in the Federal Court of Canada on behalf of Mohamedou Ould Slahi argues that Canadian authorities took actions that “cause, contributed to and prolongs.” [his] Detention, torture, assault and sexual assault at Guantanamo Bay.”
Slahi, a Mauritanian national, resided in Montreal from November 1999 to January 2000 and was investigated by security services during that time. Slahi, 51, accuses Canadian authorities of harassing him during their investigation and the stress forced him to return to Mauritania.
The crux of Slahi’s allegation is that Canadian authorities leaked false information about his activities and otherwise contributed to events that eventually led to his arrest, after which he was transported first to Jordan and Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay, where he spent 14 years charged without imprisonment spent.
“Canada’s leaking of erroneous intelligence information set off a malicious echo chamber,” the lawsuit says. The suit was first reported by the Toronto Star on Saturday.
“Advanced Interrogation Techniques” used
The Attorney General of Canada, who represents the government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
During his incarceration, Slahi wrote several books, including a memoir that formed the basis of the 2021 film The Mauritanian. Slahi is now writer-in-residence at a Dutch theater.
At the time of Slahi’s arrest in 2002, officials suspected him of having ties to terrorism, in part because he prayed in the same Montreal mosque as attempted “Millennium Assassin,” Ahmed Ressam. Slahi said he also went to Afghanistan twice to fight the Soviet-backed Afghan government in the early 1990s.
US interrogators suspecting Slahi of al-Qaeda membership used “enhanced interrogation techniques” that are now considered torture.
“Finally, the torture broke him down. Slahi began to confess to the lies his interrogators put in front of him,” the lawsuit reads. One of the false confessions involved a conspiracy to blow up Toronto’s CN Tower, which Slahi said he had never heard of.
There have been several high-profile cases of reparations to people who were detained or tortured, in part due to the actions of the Canadian authorities. Maher Arar, for example, received $10.5 million after his detention in Syria in 2007, and the government settled a lawsuit brought by Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr in 2017 for the same amount.
Mustafa Farooq, chairman of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said Canada’s alleged complicity in the events surrounding the torture of a Canadian resident stemmed from anti-Islamic stereotypes and accountability was required.
“The reality is that Mr. Mohamedou was in danger in part because he happened to be praying in a mosque, where he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to be under surveillance by the Canadian state,” Farooq told The Canadian Press.
“Part of the reason it’s so horrific is that the Canadian government and Canadian national security agencies were involved in having a man tortured who had done nothing wrong [they] knew about it and that [they] trying to make sure Canadians never know about it.”