Man alleges it was illegal to be sent to U.S. jail

Benamar Benatta rarely sleeps more than three or four hours a night.



The 33-year-old former Algerian air force lieutenant still spends nights wondering why Canadian officials transported him across the border on Sept. 12, 2001, then handed him to American authorities.



And, of course, there are recurring nightmares of five years spent in U.S. jails, despite being cleared by the FBI in November 2001 of having any links to the 9/11 attacks.

The Toronto man can still hear the taunts from jail guards who called him a terrorist; can still recall the WTC (World Trade Center) spray-painted on his cell door; can still hear the jingle of keys as guards entered his cell every half-hour, waking him from a fitful slumber.

"I’m not the same person I used to be before Sept. 12, who was full of life and full of spirit," said Benatta, who was granted refugee status in November.

"He is the first and only known case of Canada effecting an extraordinary rendition — an illegal transfer of a person from one legal jurisdiction to another outside the scope of law," said Benatta’s lawyer Nicole Chrolavicius.

A Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson refused to comment yesterday, saying the government is reviewing the allegations in a lawsuit filed by Benatta.

Benatta and his lawyer say this was an illegal transfer.

speaking engagement

  • Benatta was released in summer 2006 when Canada issued him a temporary residency permit, allowing him to claim refugee status, which was granted.

  • Benatta and his lawyer are due to speak tonight at the Noor Cultural Centre, 123 Wynford Dr. Admission is $5.