Former Guantanamo Bay detainee sues Canada for $35 million over 14 years

A man who spent 14 years in prison at Guantanamo Bay is suing the Canadian government for $35 million for his alleged role in the series of events leading up to his detention, during which he was tortured.

A statement, filed on behalf of Mohamedou Ould Slahi in the Federal Court of Canada on Friday, alleges that Canadian authorities took actions that “caused, contributed to and prolonged [his] detention, torture, assault and sexual assault at Guantanamo Bay. ยป

Slahi, a Mauritanian national, lived in Montreal from November 1999 to January 2000, during which time he was investigated by the security services. Slahi, 51, accuses the Canadian authorities of having harassed him during their investigation, the stress forcing him to return to Mauritania.

The gist of Slahi’s claim is that Canadian authorities shared false information about his activities and otherwise contributed to the events that ultimately led to his arrest, after which he was first transported to Jordan and Afghanistan. , then to Guantanamo Bay, where he spent 14 years imprisoned without charging.

“Canada’s sharing of misinformation has set off a vicious echo chamber,” the statement read. The suit was first reported by the The Toronto Star Saturday.

‘Enhanced interrogation techniques’ used

The Attorney General of Canada, who represents the government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

While in custody, Slahi wrote several books, including a memoir which served as the basis for the 2021 film Mauritanian. Slahi is now writer-in-residence at a Dutch theatre.

At the time of Slahi’s arrest in 2002, officials suspected him of having ties to terrorism, in part because he prayed at the same Montreal mosque as “millennium suicide bomber” Ahmed Ressam. Slahi said he also visited Afghanistan twice to fight against the Soviet-backed Afghan government in the early 1990s.

US interrogators, suspecting Slahi of being an al-Qaeda member, used “enhanced interrogation techniques”, which are now considered torture.

“Eventually, the torture destroyed him. Slahi began to confess the lies his interrogators had told him,” the statement read. One of the false confessions was about a plot to blow up the CN Tower in Toronto, which Slahi said he never heard of.

There have been several high-profile cases of compensation paid to those detained or tortured, to which the actions of Canadian authorities have contributed. Maher Arar, for example, received $10.5 million in 2007 after his detention in Syria, and the government settled a lawsuit against Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr for the same amount in 2017.