TORONTO — A Sudanese-Canadian has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for $27 million over his arrest, detention and alleged torture in Sudan.
Abousfian Abdelrazik’s lawsuit also names Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who once declared him a “national security risk.”
“The plaintiff claims that the defendants took numerous actions to harm him in (Sudan), including arranging for his arbitrary imprisonment by Sudanese authorities, encouraging or condoning his torture at the hands of Sudanese authorities, and actively obstructing his repatriation to Canada for several years,” the suit states.
“The defendants acted in bad faith and a callous manner at every turn, resulting in significant physical and psychological harm.”
Abdelrazik, 46, of Montreal, was arrested in Sudan in 2003 after going there to visit his sick mother.
He subsequently spent almost six years in prison or forced exile, including 14 months in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum.
He claims he was repeatedly beaten and mistreated while in detention.
His unproven statement of claim filed in Federal Court this week alleges that Canada’s spy agency requested his arrest and detention, and its agents travelled to Sudan to interrogate him.
Consular officials who were able to see him said they were unable to help him.
The suit also states that Ottawa repeatedly reneged on promises to give him an emergency passport, something for which he blames Cannon personally.
“(Cannon) took individual actions and decisions that he knew or ought to have known were unlawful and would harm the plaintiff,” the suit states.
Included in the claim is $4 million sought from the government, plus another $1 million from Cannon in punitive and aggravated damages.
“The involvement of Canadian government officials in the false imprisonment and torture of a Canadian citizen abroad is conduct that must be condemned in the strongest possible manner by way of punitive damages,” the suit asserts.
A Federal Court judge has previously ruled that Ottawa violated Abdelrazik’s constitutional rights by refusing to allow him to return to Canada and faulted the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service for its role in his detention.
The case gained widespread attention in Canada, with supporters earlier this year raising money for his plane ticket back to Canada because Ottawa refused to help.
Although Abdelrazik’s ordeal spanned both Liberal and Conservative governments, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff attacked the Tory government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for failing to stand up for a Canadian citizen.
“It’s a very bad day for Canada when a Canadian citizen has to sue its own government because he has been mistreated overseas and his human rights have not been protected,” Ignatieff said in Burlington, Ont.
“The Conservative government has to understand something very simple and clear: a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian; and the rights that Canadians have by virtue of that passport are indivisible.”