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JANUARY 21, 2004
Posted: January 22, 2004

Juliet O'Neill, Ottawa Citizen

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided the home and newspaper office of O'Neill, a reporter for the daily Ottawa Citizen, in Canada's capital, Ottawa.

Police authorities, who were operating with a search warrant, attempted to locate the source of a government information leak concerning the case of a Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen deported by U.S. authorities to Syria in 2002.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 21, RCMP officers conducted raids on O'Neill's home and the Ottawa Citizen's city hall bureau. According to local press reports, police confiscated address books, Rolodex, and downloaded the reporter's computer files.

The raids came in response to O'Neill's November 8, 2003, article about Arar, who was detained by the U.S. authorities in New York in 2002 while on his way to Canada from Tunisia. The authorities deported him to Syria, where Arar alleges that he was tortured. After being freed by Syria in October 2003, he returned to Canada.

O'Neill's article claimed that RCMP had identified Arar as having links to al-Qaeda, an allegation that Arar has denied.

The RCMP raid was conducted under the Security of Information Act, passed in Canada after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. The Act contains prohibitions against distribution or possession of secret government documents. Consequently, O'Neill and the newspaper could face criminal charges.