Jailed Harkat writes to wife of reunion (Ottawa Sun)

posted on December 20, 2003 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Lisa Lisle
Source: The Ottawa Sun
Date: December 8, 2003

Pen mightier than pen
Jailed Harkat writes to wife of reunion


He was arrested at gunpoint, labelled a terrorist, held in solitary confinement for almost a year and has now lost part of his legal team due to death threats. However, Mohamed Harkat remains optimistic about his case and believes there is a higher purpose for all he and his family have endured in the past year.

In very personal letters to his wife and most ardent supporter, Sophie, shared exclusively with the Ottawa Sun, Harkat writes about his love and appreciation for her and makes plans for the future -- a future that he believes involves him living as a free man in Canada.
"I miss you this couple months and (I'm) just waiting for the day to get out from here," he wrote from his cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. "We (are) going to make it special day for us and we will celebrate with it every year."

However, the couple has yet to celebrate and the only anniversary to be marked is the anniversary of the day they were torn apart just a month before their second wedding anniversary.

LENGTHY PROCESS

A year ago Wednesday, the Algerian national was arrested by undercover Ottawa police outside the Vanier apartment he shared with Sophie. Police were acting on a rarely used section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that deals with security certificates -- the first step in what has turned out to be a lengthy deportation process.

Signed by Solicitor General Wayne Easter and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre, the certificate allows for a Federal Court judge to determine its validity. If Justice Eleanor Dawson finds Harkat's certificate to be valid, he will be deported, possibly to the country he claims to have fled for his safety almost a decade ago.

Yet his case, which has been bogged down with secrecy and legalese for the past year, seems to be light years away from any kind of resolution.

His legal team, which lost a high-profile member when Rocco Galati walked away from all his security-certificate cases last week because of death threats he received, is still fighting for more information on the allegations against Harkat.

The team, which now consists of his original lawyer, Bruce Engel, and Doug Baum, is considering a bail application for the new year and is in the process of appealing rulings made by Dawson, saying Harkat can't make a full answer in defence without the proper information.

So far, the federal government has handed over about 1,500 pages of documents, which consist mostly of newspaper articles, pages of textbooks and transcripts from hearings, all dealing with terrorism in general.

What his lawyers do know is that CSIS believes Harkat has ties to al-Qaida, the Mujahedeen and the GIA, a radical anti-western Sunni Muslim group based in Algeria.

Called to the bar almost 13 years ago, Engel said he has never dealt with a case that even comes close to matching Harkat's in terms of twists and turns and highs and lows.

"On every level it's a complicated case," Engel said, citing the secrecy and intimidation as the prime examples. "It's absolutely exhausting."

But no one is more exhausted -- financially, physically and emotionally -- than Sophie Harkat, who has gone from being an average homemaker and worker to a social activist and spokeswoman for those fighting against the security-certificate legislation.

"I'm much more interesting now than I was a year ago," Sophie said last week, partly joking.

UPCOMING RALLY

"I started wanting people to know my husband and to know he couldn't do those things," she added with a more serious tone. "But I haven't been fighting for just his case this past year. I've been fighting for the process."

And all the rallies -- including one planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the atrium at Saint Paul University on Main St. -- press conferences and countless hours of behind-the-scenes work certainly haven't gone unnoticed by the man for whom she's fighting.

"I just want to thank you for everything you are doing for both of us," Harkat wrote in a letter to his wife last month. "The longer I know Babe, the more things I find to love you for."

Although he has yet to defend himself against the allegations in court, Harkat has reassured his wife, in their letters, that he has done nothing wrong.

"Keep your faith in God and believe me there is nothing to hide and nothing to (be) scared of and we will (win) the case with God's help and He will reveal the winner and loser," he wrote last February.

MORE CONFIDENT

However, Sophie said there's no need for that kind of reassurance since she has always believed in her husband.

"I have always been confident in my husband's innocence," she said. "But the more time Moe spends in jail, the more confident I am."

Although she would like nothing more than to have CSIS announce it made a mistake and have the government free her husband, Sophie believes the experience has only strengthened their relationship. And she's not alone in that belief.

"I believe what we are going through (is) just to make us more closer and to make our marriage perfect and stronger," Mohamed wrote last month. "I love you forever whenever, wherever."

While for Sophie Harkat the "wherever" extends all the way to Algeria if her husband is eventually deported, she hopes her commitment to her husband won't face that test.
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