Harkat to fight security certificate ruling

Wife calls Federal Court ruling 'load of bull'

Last Updated: Friday, December 10, 2010

CBC News

Mohamed Harkat and his family say they will fight "to the end" a Federal Court ruling that there are reasonable grounds to believe he remains a threat to national security.

Mohamed Harkat wipes away tears on Friday. A Federal Court ruled this week there are reasonable grounds to believe the Algerian-born Ottawa resident remains a threat to national security. (CBC) Thursday's ruling by Justice Simon Noel opens the door for the deportation of Harkat, who was arrested after Canada's spy agency, CSIS, alleged he was a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he was frustrated by the court process, suggesting it needs streamlining. He said he would like to remove terrorists as quickly as possible from Canada.

During a news conference earlier Friday with supporters and his wife Sophie, Harkat insisted his life is in danger if he is returned to his native country of Algeria now that the court has "put a stamp on my face [that] says 'terror.'"

Harkat, who has been living in Ottawa under virtual house arrest since 2002 due to a security certificate, again declared his innocence and said he feels "sick inside" after the ruling.

His wife, Sophie, called Thursday's ruling a "punch in the guts that will leave marks for a very long time."

"This document, in my opinion, is a load of bull," she said through tears, brandishing Noel's ruling. "We will never, ever accept this judgment; we asked for the truth and this is not the truth."

The 42-year-old former pizza delivery man and gas station attendant has said he fled his native Algeria and worked as an aid worker in Pakistan before coming to Canada in 1995 as a refugee using a fake Saudi passport.

Harkat said he used a fraudulent document only because he was in danger and his own Algerian passport "would get me nowhere."

In his ruling, Noel said Harkat's links to the Ibn Khattab terror group for whom he operated a guesthouse while in Pakistan and his association with Islamic extremists provided reasonable grounds to believe he engaged in terrorism activities. Noel also said Harkat was "not truthful, honest or transparent."

"The court concludes that, while in Canada, Mohamed Harkat maintained contacts and assisted Islamist extremists, and used some methodologies typical of a 'sleeper agent,'" Noel wrote.

But Harkat's lawyer Norm Boxhall said the evidence presented to the court was done so in a "hearsay fashion."

"I remain in the dark as all of you," he said.

Held without trial

Harkat was first released on bail in 2006 after being held without trial under a national security certificate. A second certificate was issued against him in 2008.

He won a partial victory last year when Noel loosened the restrictions on his house arrest, though he still had to wear a GPS monitor, report weekly to authorities and travel unsupervised only in the Ottawa area. His passport also remained in trust with federal agents.

A separate decision also upholds the constitutionality of the national security certificate system the government is using to remove Harkat from Canada.

Security certificates allow the Canadian government to detain and deport permanent residents or foreign nationals considered to be a security threat without revealing all the evidence to the accused.




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre.com


As much as it would be nice to say, "he is a terrorist, deport him", when you read the decision, it has some "red flags".

First Justice Simon Noel uses language that looks like it comes right out of decision of a North Korean or Iranian court that has a predetermined conclusion, being justified.

Justice Simon Noel uses classic language that shows a probability that he intended to "justify his decision" and for that he was forced to rely entirely upon apparently, double hearsay evidence that has NOT been vetted by criminal defense lawyers who "remain in the dark" as to what "the case" is all about.

CSIS, may have well done a great job but there remains an unacceptable level of doubt about the quality of that evidence and more importantly, the accuracy of it.

The decision begs the question, is this CSIS evidence to be relied upon?

IF, CSIS did not have any doubts about the reliability of their evidence, they would have agreed to have the evidence examined by trusted criminal lawyers, all of whom are Canadians and one would imagine also want to know the real case if there is one, against their client.

IF, CSIS's evidence is vetted and found to be sufficient and reliable, then Harkat should be jailed and deported.

The interests of justice require that the CSIS evidence be carefully and properly vetted by a select group of trusted criminal lawyers which includes dam near every criminal lawyer in the country.