The U.S. continues to cast suspicion over Maher Arar because it bungled the case of the Canadian wrongly tagged a terrorist, Stephen Harper suggested yesterday.
Responding to recent claims from U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins that Arar remains on the Americans' terror watch list, the PM insisted Canada has nothing to corroborate the claim he's a security threat.
"I've asked my officials: 'Do we have this information? No. Have the Americans been willing to give it to us? No, not at this point in time,'" he said in a year-end interview with Sun Media. "As near as I can see, we simply have a U.S. government that won't admit it's wrong."
Harper said the federal government has pressed the fact that Arar was "completely cleared" in a judicial inquiry. But he insisted he can't compel the U.S. to share its dossier on Arar despite a formal information-sharing agreement between the countries.
"We share information, but we're not obliged to share all information. We're obliged to share it if it could result in certain kinds of immediate threats," Harper said.
"I'm not aware of the U.S. violating any law by not sharing it with us, but I'm obviously disappointed that they don't seem at this point to have responded fully to the conclusions of our own inquiry, and I have no explanation for why they're taking the position that they are."
Harper said the government is "anxious" to reach a settlement with Arar on financial compensation and a formal apology. Mediation talks were held last week and will continue in the new year.
Last week, Wilkins issued a statement confirming that Arar remains on the U.S. terror watch list because he's deemed a security threat, and has since defended the decision based on "independent risk assessment" by American officials.