Mr. Benatta is a 33 year old Algerian citizen who trained as an aeronautical engineer. He came to North America to flee political persecution and threats to his life while serving in the Algerian Armed Forces. On September 5, 2001, Mr. Benatta crossed the border into Canada and claimed political asylum. His biggest fear was being returned to Algeria where he was certain to be tortured or killed for deserting the military. Canadian authorities put Mr. Benatta into immigration detention while they tried to ascertain his identity.
While in Canadian custody and unbeknown to Mr. Benatta, terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York City and other targets on September 11, 2001. Canadian officials alerted U.S. officials to the presence of Mr. Benatta, presumably because he is a Muslim man who knows something about airplanes. Without a hearing, without counsel and without conducting proceedings in his first language (French), Mr. Benatta was unceremoniously driven over the border in the back of a car by Canadian officials and handed over to U.S. officials on September 12, 2001. This was an illegal transfer. This action by Canadian officials was the beginning of a long nightmare for Mr. Benatta.
Mr. Benatta was held in the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn , New York , where he was treated as a suspect in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was beaten. He was abused. He was held in conditions that the United Nations described as torture. He was forgotten.
Mr. Benatta was actually cleared of any terrorist activity by the FBI in November 2001; however, he was never told that he was cleared because he was being held incommunicado and did not have access to a lawyer.
In all, Mr. Benatta, an innocent man, spent nearly five years of his life in American prisons in conditions that could be described as torture as found by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in an Opinion adopted in 2004. Mr. Benatta also suffered serious abuse at the hands of his prison guards, which is documented by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Canadian Government, various agencies and government officials all bear some measure of responsibility for Mr. Benatta's ordeal.
Mr. Benatta has been allowed to return to Canada to resume his claim for refugee status. His application is pending. He is trying to get his life back. He is trying to find out the truth about why this happened to him. For more information about Benatta's ordeal visit www.benamarbenatta.com
Please join us in asking for a public review in the Canadian officials' actions in illegally transferring Benatta to the United States. As a result of such actions, Benatta was tortured, abused and imprisoned for 5 years.
We, the undersigned, urge you to commission a public review into the actions of Canadian officials in illegally transferring Benamar Benatta to U.S. officials on September 12, 2001.
Such a review must be comprehensive, credible, independent and impartial and must inspire public confidence in the result.
No Canadian official or agency should be exempt from scrutiny.
As you know, following his transfer to the U.S. on September 12, 2001, Mr. Benatta was treated as a suspect in the September 11th terror attacks. Despite being cleared by the FBI of any suspicions in November 2001, he remained in detention in the U.S. for nearly five years, until being transferred back to Canada and allowed to resume his refugee claim.
We believe that it is necessary to determine how Mr. Benatta came to be handed over to the U.S. for a number of reasons. Mr. Benatta deserves an explanation for what happened to him so that he can try to get on with his life. Canadians need to know to what extent Canadian officials sought to disregard Canadian law, International law and indeed, the rule of law in transferring Mr. Benatta to U.S. officials on September 12, 2001.
We need to know whether there are similar cases and finally, we need to ensure that any future injustices are prevented.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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