'I'm overwhelmed': Canadian freed from U.A.E. prison arrives in Toronto
Published Monday, June 20, 2016 11:33AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 20, 2016 8:26PM EDT
A Canadian man who was detained for nearly two years in the United Arab Emirates has returned to Canada.
Salim Alaradi arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport at around 6:10 p.m. on Monday.
“I’m overwhelmed to be home after the last two years,” he said in a brief statement to reporters. “I cannot express how I’m feeling. It’s amazing.”
Alaradi also thanked the UN Human Rights Commission, his family, members of the Canadian government and the lawyers who worked towards freeing him, calling the campaign for his release “unbelievable.”
“I am home today because thousands of people in Canada and the world spoke out,” he said. “I’m grateful to each of you.”
Alaradi’s daughter Marwa also thanked all of those who shared her story and pushed for her father’s release.
The family are now making their way home to Windsor, Ont..
Alaradi said his main concern is his health.
“I will need time to recover and to get medical treatment,” he said. “I am looking forward to settling in Windsor with my family and enjoying a Canadian summer.”
The father-of-five was arrested in Dubai in August of 2014. He spent nearly a year and a half in prison without being charged until he was tried on terrorism-related offenses earlier this year. Human rights campaigners said the charges were false and that there was no evidence against Alaradi.
He was acquitted by a judge on May 31 without explanation, but he had difficulties leaving the country because his name appeared on a no-fly list.
On June 3, Alaradi arrived in Turkey where he received medical attention.
According to the "Free Salim Alaradi" campaign, Alaradi lost more than 40 pounds during his time in detention and "remains in considerable pain."
Alaradi was born in Libya, immigrated to Canada from the U.A.E. in 1998, and returned to the country in 2007 to launch a home appliance business.
He was arrested along with a number of Libyans and accused of providing supplies to groups and collecting donations without government permission.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention alleged the men were deprived of sleep for up to 20 days, beaten on the hands and legs and given "electric shocks with an electric chair."