Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Wednesday raided the home and newspaper office of a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen in an effort to learn how she obtained secret documents concerning a Syrian-born immigrant who was arrested in the United States as a terrorism suspect.
The reporter, Juliet O'Neill, could face criminal charges for violating the Security of Information Act, one of several sweeping measures passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The raids came in response to a front-page article by O'Neill published Nov. 8, outlining a Canadian intelligence dossier on Maher Arar, an Ottawa computer technician who was seized in New York during a brief stopover in 2002 on his way home from a vacation in Tunisia. Arar, 33, was deported to Syria for detention, questioning and apparent torture in a case that has become a celebrated human rights cause on both sides of the border.
Arar was freed by Syria and returned in October to Canada. That he was sent by American officials to Syria for interrogation without Ottawa's permission has become a sore point in U.S.-Canadian relations, although officials from both countries have said he was seized based on information gathered and supplied by Canadian security officials.
O'Neill's article said that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had identified Arar as a possible member of a now disbanded suspected terrorist support group operating in Ottawa. Her article laid out a case put forth in Canadian security documents that Arar had told Syrian military intelligence officials during his incarceration in Damascus that he had trained at the Khalden terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and named instructors who taught him tactics and how to use small firearms.
O'Neill did not disclose the source of her information.
Arar has denied ever being in Afghanistan and characterizes himself as a nonviolent moderate. He has never been charged.