The RCMP spent close to $5 million investigating possible links between Maher Arar and al Qaeda and on defending itself after he was illegitimately sent to a Syrian prison.

The details were disclosed under the Access to Information Act, Montreal's La Presse reported Wednesday.

The initial investigation of Arar as a so-called 'person of interest' cost the RCMP $863,589.41.

The force also spent $4.1 million on costs related to their participation in the Arar inquiry, headed by Judge Dennis O'Connor.

Arar was deported by the U.S. to Syria in September 2002, partly because of erroneous information from the RCMP. While in Syria, Arar said he was tortured into a false confession that he was involved with al Qaeda.

O'Connor concluded in his report that the RCMP gave misleading information to U.S. officials that most likely contributed to his deportation.

Despite being cleared of any terrorist links by Justice O'Connor, Arar remains on the American watch list -- preventing him from entering the United States or even flying over its airspace.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she has asked the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department officials to report back to her on why he remains on the list.