FD Editor’s Note: Please do NOT forget Bashir! Bashir’s cousin has been working tirelessly for justice. He is now asking for Stephen Harper to step in to help secure Bashir’s release. Please take a few minutes to write to Stephen Harper and ask him to do just that. Ask him to step in and do all he can to have Bashir Makhtar released ASAP. Click here to send Prime Minister Harper an email. At the bottom of this article is the postal address as well as the Fax number. Many times these things are better sent via Fax or Postal address. Please do whichever is more convenient for you. Bless you/Jazak’Allah Khair for your efforts!
OTTAWA - A Canadian citizen languishing in an Ethiopian jail is straining relations between Canada and the east African country.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been the most high-profile champion for the release of Bashir Makhtar, an Ethiopia-born ethnic Somali who became a Canadian citizen in 1994.
Baird spokesman Rick Roth said Tuesday the minister “has made clear to the highest levels of the Ethiopian government that this case will continue to be a significant irritant in our relations.”
Makhtal’s family was in Ottawa Tuesday trying to raise awareness about the case they worry has fallen off the federal government’s radar.
Roth said Baird has spoken with both Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, and his counterpart Hailemariam Desalegn specifically about his case.
“Unfortunately, the Ethiopian government continues to stand firm on the verdict,” Roth said in a statement.
Makhtar, a Toronto IT specialist, was arrested crossing the Kenyan border from Somalia in December 2006 while on a business trip, and illegally rendered to Ethiopia a few weeks later.
He was convicted of three terrorism related offences in 2009 and sentenced to life in prison in an Addis Ababa jail.
Canadian officials say he’s innocent and Amnesty International says his trial fell far short of international legal standards.