Canadian government apologizes to citizens tortured in Syria

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The Canadian government on Friday formally apologized in a statement to three of its citizens who were tortured in Syria, which Canadian officials allegedly played an indirect role in.

The government said it had settled civil suits with three Canadian nationals -- Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin -- who were arrested and tortured in Syrian custody just after the 9/11 attacks and detained until 2004.

"On behalf of the Government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin, and their families, for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to their detention and mistreatment abroad and any resulting harm," read a statement from the country's public safety minister Ralph Goodale and the foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.

The statement did not divulge the nature of the agreement reached.

Amnesty International welcomed the news and said the settlement included financial compensation.

Released in 2004 without charges against them, the trio sued the Canadian government for damages.

This past September Canada's CBC news network obtained exclusive documents showing that Canadian officials had fed Syrian officials questions they asked the men who were detained and tortured.

"We hope the steps taken today will support them and their families in their efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in their lives," the Canadian ministers' statement read.

In a similar case, Canadian computer engineer Maher Arar was tortured in a Damascus prison in 2002, after he was transferred there by US officials based on a Canadian tip-off.

But Arar was later cleared of any suspicion by the Canadian authorities, and in January 2007 won an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Can$10 million in compensation from the Canadian government.

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