Tre Arrow's effort to raise bail money for his release from a Canadian prison has taken him to Maher Arar, someone who knows about the dangers of being labeled a "terrorist."
"Many of us are hopeful that something will come from this," says an email from Morgan Obendorfer, a Victoria, B.C., teacher and member of Arrow's support committee.
Arrow is fighting extradition to Oregon, where he would stand trial for two 2001 arsons of logging and cement trucks. The FBI has called the acts "domestic terrorism" (See "Grounded Arrow," WW, June 7, 2005).
Arar, a Canadian citizen and engineer, was detained in New York's JFK Airport in September 2002 while en route from Tunisia to Montreal. Acting on faulty intelligence from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that Arar was linked to al Qaeda, the United States sent Arar to his native Syria, where he was tortured for 10 months before he was released.
The Canadian government exonerated Arar and apologized to him in January. But the United States has yet to do so despite pressure from Canada, which gave Arar $1 million Canadian (about $850,000 in U.S. dollars) for his legal fees plus a $10.5 million settlement (about $8.9 million U.S.). Arrow would like part of that money to put toward his bail proposal.
Arrow, who was arrested in Canada three years ago, wants to raise $1 million Canadian for bail. He has promises for almost half that, but none from B.C. residents. Obendorfer says that's key because Arrow's lawyers believe it's critical to show local support. Arar moved to B.C. last year and lives in Kamloops, about 220 miles northeast of Vancouver.
In a March 18 email to supporters, dictated from jail, the 33-year-old Arrow says he recently reached out to Arar on the phone.
"The two of us have very important contributions to bring forth to the restoration of justice and democracy within the political and social structure of our cultures," says Arrow, who got 6 percent of the vote as a 2000 congressional candidate for the Pacific Green Party in Oregon.
Arar's media contact said Arar wasn't immediately available for an interview about Arrow, whose appeal hearing is scheduled for April 18 in Vancouver.
Eds. note: Arrow has again dropped the "y" from his first name. "I guess this is what happens when you've got a lot of time on your hands," Obendorfer says.