Ottawa engineer Abdullah Almalki remembers his interrogator sliding a paper across a table in Syria's notorious Palestine Branch prison complex.
The man put his hand over part of the page while directing him to an exposed paragraph. According to Mr. Almalki, the interrogator told him: "This is what the Canadians are saying about you."
The paragraph, Mr. Almalki remembers, characterized him as an aide to Osama bin Laden and a high-ranking officer of al-Qaeda based on information gathered through police searches of his Ottawa home and office.
The moment was one of many that led Mr. Almalki to the conclusion that his 22-months of detention and torture were ultimately attributable to Canadian intelligence agencies.
"Everything I was interrogated on from
Day 1 to the last day was related to my life in Canada, to people in Canada, to my business," he told the Citizen in an interview this week in his south Ottawa home. "There was nothing related to Syria, absolutely nothing."
The 36-year-old father of six has launched a $15-million civil lawsuit against the federal government and a host of RCMP officers and CSIS agents. Among those named in the suit are RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli and former CSIS director Ward Elcock.
The statement of claim, filed in Ontario Superior Court, contends that Canadian officials were complicit in his torture by virtue of their deliberate attempt to obtain information from Mr. Almalki through his detention and interrogation in Syria. It describes Mr. Almalki as "collateral damage" in the federal government's publicly declared war on terror.
"The Canadian government, including the RCMP and CSIS, believed Abdullah was a terrorist. When they could not find any evidence of Abdullah's terrorist connections in Canada, they conspired with Syrian officials to extract the evidence for them, by whatever means," the lawsuit alleges.
"But the defendants were wrong: there was no evidence to be extracted. There was no connection between Abdullah and terrorism. The Canadian government caused an innocent man, one of its own citizens, to be imprisoned and tortured."