Maher Arar is calling on Stephen Harper to ensure the report of a public inquiry into his detention and torture in Syria won't be undermined by spurious claims of government secrecy.

"The prime minister spoke about accountability" while he was in opposition, Arar said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "It is his opportunity right now to demonstrate to Canadians by action that he really means what he says. ... He could do that by simply ordering the government lawyers and the agencies to stop delaying the release of the report and to co-operate fully."

The comments came as Paul Cavalluzzo, chief counsel for the inquiry, confirmed that a report by Justice Dennis O'Connor likely will be put off until May.

The commission has made "great strides" in discussions with government lawyers, but disagreements remain over how much evidence can be publicly disclosed, Cavalluzzo said Thursday.

"It's not bad faith or anything, it's the whole national security law. ... It's a very, very time-consuming and complicated process."

O'Connor had initially planned to table a report by the end of 2005, then expressed hope that he could have something ready by this month.

He has now been at work for 25 months - more than twice the time that Arar spent in a Syrian jail, where he says he was tortured into false confessions of terrorist activity.

The Ottawa software engineer was arrested by U.S. authorities in the fall of 2002 and deported to his native Syria - even though he is now a Canadian citizen and was travelling through New York on a Canadian passport.

The RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have steadfastly denied they played any role in the American decision.

Human rights advocates say the affair is a glaring example of the way western governments "contract out" the torture of terrorist suspects by sending them to third countries for interrogation.

Arar's appeal to Harper is not the first time he's called for high-level political intervention.

He made a similar appeal to former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin last year, when his lawyers and government counsel were at loggerheads over whether some key documents could be publicly disclosed.

He now says Harper's Conservatives have a chance to end the practice of using national security as an excuse to withhold evidence that would embarrass federal officials.

"I hope that the new government takes political leadership," he said.

There was no immediate comment from the Prime Minister's Office.

Cavalluzzo said he hasn't noticed any change in the attitude of federal lawyers since the Tories ousted the Liberals - but he wouldn't have expected a change.

"To me, you know, the government is the government, whatever the political stripe," he said.

"When it comes to national security there are institutional concerns that the government has to protect. But obviously national security protection is in the eye of the beholder - it's like beauty and truth."

Stephen Bindman, a spokesman for the government legal team at the inquiry, said the two sides are engaged in "constructive dialogue " about how much evidence can be made public.

He expressed hope that any outstanding disagreements can be resolved. "The government has no interest in delaying the release of the report," said Bindman.

Cavalluzzo said he also hopes a consensus can be reached, but added that it wouldn't surprise him if it turns out to be impossible.

That could set the stage for a battle in Federal Court over how much information can be included in the public version of O'Connor's report, and how much will be hived off into a separate volume that will remain secret.

Cavalluzzo said the commission is anxious to avoid any further delays in the public report.

If agreement can't be reached on all points, the current plan is for O'Connor to put out his public volume in May with some portions blacked out.

Commission lawyers would then go to court to try to win the release of the deleted portions later.

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Well I guess some people in Canada would be happy, since all he was was a suspected Muslim terrorist.

However to me this just shows how the government does nothing for ordinary Canadians with regards to AMerica's battle.