Harkat case going back to Supreme Court

posted on November 22, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: November 22, 2012 OTTAWA — Ten years after Mohamed Harkat was arrested in Ottawa as a terrorist suspect, his deportation case is headed back to the Supreme Court of Canada. The country’s highest court announced Thursday that it will hear an appeal in his case. It means the Harkat case will become the first to test the constitutionality of the federal government’s revised security certificate law. The first edition of that law, used to deport foreign-born terror suspects, was struck down by the high court in February 2007 as fundamentally unjust. That ruling overturned a judge’s finding that Harkat was a terrorist threat. Parliament rewrote the law to ensure defendants have more information about the case against them, and better legal representation during secret hearings. But Harkat’s lawyers contend Parliament did not do enough. Harkat, they say, remains in the dark about key details of the case due to the still secretive legal process. The government has been trying to deport the Algerian-born Harkat since December 2002, when he was arrested and jailed on the strength of a security certificate.

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High court to deliver latest twists in marathon Harkat terrorism case

posted on November 22, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill (CP) Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: November 21, 2012 OTTAWA - The long-running case of former pizza delivery man Mohamed Harkat — an Algerian refugee accused of terrorist links — will take another twist or two Thursday when the Supreme Court decides whether to hear appeals from each side. Harkat, 44, was arrested almost 10 years ago in Ottawa on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. He denies any involvement in terrorism. The federal government wants to deport Harkat under a national security certificate, a rarely used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of being terrorists or spies. He is one of three Muslim men whose certificate cases continue to grind through the courts. Harkat lives at home with wife Sophie, but wears an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, must check in with authorities regularly and cannot leave town without permission. "It's been a tremendous ordeal," said Norm Boxall, a lawyer for Harkat. "It's been a very long time." No matter how the Supreme Court of Canada rules, Harkat's legal saga is far from over.

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Ottawa expected UN pressure on anti-torture policy

posted on November 14, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Source: The Canadian Press via CBC News URL: [link] Date: November 13, 2012 Newly released memos show Canada fully expected the intense grilling it got from a United Nations committee earlier this year about its international obligations to shun torture and other cruel treatment. Officials quietly advised Justice Minister Rob Nicholson the committee would "likely press Canada" on issues ranging from prison overcrowding to redress for people subjected to torture abroad. The federal government was also prepared to defend its refusal to arrest former U.S. leaders George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for alleged war crimes. In late May, a Canadian delegation presented Canada's latest report on compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture. Advisers also provided the minister with copies of the numerous talking points intended to help the delegation defend Canada's interests. The committee later issued a report criticizing several aspects of Canada's legal regime, including planned measures affecting refugee claimants and the continuing use of national security certificates to deport non-citizens. © The Canadian Press, 2012

Mohamed Harkat gets shot to clear himself at Supreme Court

posted on November 13, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Doug Hempstead, with files from Brigitte Pellerin Source: The Ottawa Sun URL: [link] Date: November 22, 2012 Elated that her husband will get a chance to argue his case before the Supreme Court, Sophie Harkat celebrated by baking cookies for her lawyers. The Supreme Court announced Thursday morning the successful appeal of Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian citizen suspected of having ties to terrorism who is challenging Canada’s system of security certificates. The couple got the news when Sophie saw it posted to the Supreme Court website. “I heard her screaming upstairs,” said Harkat. “But sometimes, she is screaming both sides — good news or bad.” Harkat, 44, arrived in Canada in 1995 and was granted refugee status in 1998. He was arrested outside his Ottawa home on Dec. 10, 2002 — accused of operating a safe house for Islamic extremists in Pakistan while he was still 19 and having associations with terrorist groups. He was jailed for three and a half years — including one year in solitary confinement. He was released on bail June 21, 2006. The government issued a security certificate against him and served with a notice of deportation in 2011.

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Mohamed Harkat case likely to head to Supreme Court, stretch into second decade

posted on November 10, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: June 26, 2012 OTTAWA — Mohamed Harkat’s legal odyssey will move into its second decade this year as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear the latest appeals in his terrorism case. Both sides have now appealed elements of an April decision that struck down a judge’s finding that Harkat was a member of the al-Qaeda network. The government has been trying to deport the Algerian-born Harkat using the country’s security certificate law since December 2002 when he was arrested outside his Ottawa apartment building. Harkat, 43, has always maintained that he has no connection to al-Qaeda and will be tortured or killed if returned to Algeria. For 10 years, the case has bounced between the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Judges have twice deemed Harkat a terrorist and ordered him deported only to have their findings overturned by higher courts that found the legal process wanting. In April, the Federal Court of Appeal said Harkat’s right to fair trial had been compromised by the destruction of 13 wiretap recordings made by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) between 1996 and 1998. Written summaries of those conversations offered critical evidence against Harkat, but without the full, original recordings, defence lawyers said they had no way to challenge their context or accuracy. The appeal court agreed and ordered Judge Simon Noël to reconsider the case without the benefit of conversations in which Harkat did not take part. Noël had declared Harkat an active and dangerous member of al-Qaeda in December 2010. The same appeal court decision upheld the constitutionality of the government’s revised security certificate regime.

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A Letter to Minister Toews on the Use of Torture-tainted information

posted on September 12, 2012 | in Category Canada | PermaLink

by ICLMG and 10 civil society organizations Source: International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group URL: [link] Date: September 6, 2012 The Honourable Vic Toews, PC QC MP Minister of Public Safety House of Commons Ottawa, Canada K1A 0A6 Re: Use of Torture-tainted information 6 September 2012 Dear Minister Toews: We are writing to you today to express our opposition to the government's directives that would allow for the use of information that was likely extracted through torture. These directives are currently in the public spotlight following disclosure through an Access to Information request. It is important to note that Canada is a signatory to numerous international agreements including the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All of these conventions emphasize the illegality of the use of torture and, as such, it is imperative that the Canadian government upholds its international obligations by unequivocally denying the right of any state to torture citizens or non-citizens. To accept/ share information from states where torture is known to occur would be to renege on these international commitments. Furthermore, it would send the wrong signal, implying that there is a "market" for such information. As such we urge the Canadian government to direct its various national security agencies including the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and CSIS to discard information likely obtained through the violation of human rights and to refrain from sharing such information. In 2006, Justice Dennis O'Connor, in his Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar, recommended policies that now appear to have been ignored. Specifically, recommendation 14 which stated, "Policies should include specific directions aimed at eliminating any possible Canadian complicity in torture, avoiding the risk of other human rights abuses and ensuring accountability." We, the undersigned, strongly believe that the Canadian government and its institutions are responsible for the safety and well-being of Canadians. However this duty must align itself with international agreements, and with Canada's own Charter obligations. The Government of Canada must condemn the use of torture, without caveats. Sincerely, Ihsaan Gardee Executive Director CAIR-CAN Roch Tassé National Coordinator International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group Gail Davidson Executive Director Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada Brent Patterson Political Director The Council of Canadians Dave Coles President Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada James L. Turk Executive Director Canadian Association of University Teachers Vincent Gogolek Executive Director BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association Carmen Cheung Senior Counsel BC Civil Liberties Association Nicole Filion Directrice générale Ligue des droits et libertés Warren Allmand, P.C., O.C.,Q.C. Carol Dixon Presiding Clerk Canadian Yearly Meeting-Religious Society of Friends(Quakers) Rita Morbia Executive Director Inter Pares

CBC: Security certificates process has evolved, ex-CSIS official says

posted on September 07, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Source: CBC News URL: [link] Date: September 7, 2012 The secretive, highly contentious security certificate process strikes a balance between upholding fundamental human rights and protecting society from security threats, says a former top official with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. In an exclusive interview with host Evan Solomon on CBC News Network's Power and Politics, Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of intelligence for CSIS, said intense scrutiny and various legal challenges have fine-tuned the rarely used process. First established in 1978, security certificates have been used in fewer than 30 cases since 1991, according to Boisvert, who is now president of I-Sec Integrated Strategies. The threat environment has "transformed tremendously" and requires a delicate balance between enabling the state to protect its citizens as a fundamental obligation – and upholding individual freedoms protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he added. Boisvert said intelligence gathered by spy agencies is not meant to be used in court like evidence gathered by law enforcement agencies, and is usually obtained and shared through a network of international partners.

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Canada’s spy service fights court ruling it says puts informants in danger

posted on July 09, 2012 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: July 2, 2012 Csis Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that struck down the right of CSIS to always shield the names of its sources.

Canada’s spy agency says its network of informants has been “imperilled” by a Federal Court of Appeal decision that struck down its right to always shield the names of its sources. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. “As with police informers, the identity of informers who provide information to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) must be protected or their lives and the lives of their families could be at risk,” federal lawyer David Tyndale argues in documents filed in support of the government’s leave to appeal. “Without a guarantee of confidentiality, individuals would be reluctant to come forward and assist CSIS, and sources would dry up.” The appeal court ruling, he says, damages Canada’s national security, impairs its ability to deport foreign-born terror suspects, and creates two classes of informants: those who work for the police and those who work for CSIS. “These are issues of the utmost public importance,” Tyndale contends. In April, the Federal Court of Appeal struck down a blanket legal protection — it’s known as a “class privilege” — that had been extended to CSIS informants. Confidential police sources already enjoy a near-absolute right to have their names kept out of court proceedings. (The lone exception involves a crime in which a defendant’s innocence can only be established by unmasking the informant.) The appeal court, however, said it was unnecessary for CSIS informants to be offered the same automatic protection since other legal safeguards are available to them. The issue first arose in 2008 during Mohamed Harkat’s security certificate hearing.

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CSIS breaches policy, makes errors, watchdog says

posted on May 19, 2012 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by The Canadian Press
Source: CTV News
URL: [link]
Date: May. 18, 2012


OTTAWA — Canada's spy service continues to flout policy and make a serious number of reporting errors, says a federal watchdog whose office was recently abolished.

In her final report as inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Eva Plunkett says CSIS's reputation and effectiveness may suffer if the problems aren't addressed.

The "re-occurring and high rate of non-compliance with policy and the ever-increasing rate of errors in reporting identified in what is a relatively small review sample of CSIS activities is a concern to me and should be a serious concern of the Service," Plunkett says in the annual report card.

"Errors in intelligence reporting, as I have repeatedly stated over my tenure, are a serious matter and have the potential for far-reaching consequences."

The Canadian Press obtained a declassified version of Plunkett's top secret November 2011 evaluation Friday under the Access to Information Act.

Plunkett retired last December and the Conservative government recently scrapped her office, saying it would save money and eliminate duplication.

As inspector general, she served as the public safety minister's eyes and ears on the intelligence service for eight years. She had a staff of eight and a budget of about $1 million.

In her report, Plunkett says her office performs the unique role of identifying issues and recommending corrective actions before they become public controversies that undermine trust.

"This is not work done elsewhere in government on your behalf," says the report.

"At this time, it is the only independent, impartial resource available to the minister to support his responsibility and accountability for an organization which works in secret but has been given highly intrusive powers."

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New hearing for Algerian terror suspect in Canada

posted on April 28, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: Agence France Presse URL: [link] Date: April 25, 2012 OTTAWA — A Canadian appeals court on Wednesday ordered a new hearing for a former Ottawa pizza delivery man declared to be a security threat with links to Al-Qaeda, effectively delaying his deportation to Algeria. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that telephone intercepts be excluded from evidence in the case of Mohamed Harkat, a 44-year-old Algerian first detained in 2002 on suspicion of links to the global terror network. Harkat spent nearly four years in jail under a rarely-used national security measure, and has since 2006 been subject to strict bail conditions. A lower court ruled in 2010 that Harkat was likely an Al-Qaeda sleeper agent who remained a national security threat, while Canada's immigration minister vowed to deport him. But in Wednesday's ruling, the appeals court agreed with the argument made by defense lawyers that the Canadian spy agency's routine destruction of the original tapes amounted to a breach of process. The case now goes back to the Federal Court to reconsider. Defense lawyer Matthew Webber said the exclusion of transcripts of the intercepts would have a "profound effect" on the case. "Of the public material that we saw, it's the pivotal evidence," echoed fellow legal counsel Norman Boxall at a press conference, describing the transcripts as "tattered remnants" filled with inaccuracies. Harkat has denied terror links, and claimed he fled Algeria over a crackdown on a political party to which he belonged, the now-defunct and banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). He testified that he came to Canada as a refugee in 1995 after spending five years in Pakistan as an aid worker. "This gives me hope to clear my name and live another day... and hope justice will prevail someday," Harkat said Wednesday. "It's not over, but... I see the light at the end of the tunnel." In its decision, the Federal Court of Appeal also upheld disputed provisions of Canada's immigration law that allow secret court hearings and indefinite jailing of foreigners suspected of terror ties, without charge. Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved. ©2012 Google.

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