- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003


Dual citizen freed from prison in Syria

MONTREAL — A Canadian citizen deported to Syria by U.S. authorities was freed after a year spent in prison in his native country, Canadian Foreign Minister Affairs Bill Graham announced Sunday.

Maher Arar, 32, a computer engineer with dual Canadian-Syrian citizenship, was detained at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 26, 2002, as he waited for a flight to Montreal after returning from a trip to Tunisia. He was deported to Syria, the country where he was born, although he was traveling with a Canadian passport.

“He was released into the custody of our consular officials [Sunday] by the Syrian authorities,” Mr. Graham told reporters in a conference call from Rome, where a semiannual Canadian-European Union meeting opened yesterday.

Mr. Arar was en route to Canada and was expected late yesterday in Ottawa.


Bioweapons charge rejected as lie

HAVANA — Cuba denied yesterday it was trying to develop biological weapons, dismissing the charge made last week by the U.S. State Department as a “baldfaced lie.”

Roger Noriega, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that Havana had a biological arms program, repeating an accusation the U.S. made last year.

“We continue … to believe that Cuba has at least a limited, developmental, offensive biological weapons research and development effort, and is providing dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states,” Mr. Noriega said.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said the Bush administration’s accusations were influenced by “Miami-based terrorist fanatics,” referring to the politically powerful Cuban exile community in Florida.


Japanese reject tariff-free pork

TOKYO — Japan will not be able to accept a tariff-free quota for pork imports if Mexico proposes it in ongoing negotiations over a bilateral free-trade agreement, a senior Japanese farm ministry official said yesterday.

“It’s difficult to accept it,” Yoshiaki Watanabe, vice minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told reporters. The trade talks are proceeding with difficulty because of differences over ways to deal with some farm products.

Weekly notes …

Chile celebrated Sunday the 15th anniversary of a referendum that led to the end of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. “The epic character of that victory, like David over Goliath, brings us to celebrate each year the triumphant expression of the patriotic ideals that unite us,” said Patricio Aylwin, who became the first president after full restoration of democracy in 1990. He and his successor, Eduardo Frei, participated in a ceremony marking the event. Vice President Jose Miguel Inzulza attended for President Ricardo Lagos, who was traveling abroad. … A Brazilian congressman and three other men were found dead Sunday after their aircraft crashed into dense jungle in southwestern Brazil, authorities said. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed “deep sorrow” at the death of Rep. Jose Carlos Martinez, a four-term lawmaker and president of the Brazilian Labor Party, part of the governing coalition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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