Harkat deserves new hearing, federal appeal court rules

posted on April 26, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy and Don Butler
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: April 26, 2012

[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat, centre, with lawyers Matt Webber, left, and Norm Boxall, holds a press conference Wednesday in Ottawa after the Federal Court of Appeal said he deserves a new hearing to determine if he’s a threat to national security.]

OTTAWA — Mohamed Harkat has been sleeping poorly of late. The Ottawa man knew the Federal Court of Appeal was about to make a decision that could have life or death consequences for him.

Depending on how the court ruled, Harkat — who was arrested in 2002 on a security certificate and has been in prison or under house arrest ever since — was facing deportation to his native Algeria, where he feared he would be tortured or killed.

That threat receded Wednesday — perhaps for good — after the appeal court ruled that Harkat, 43, deserves a new hearing to determine if he’s a threat to national security.

“It’s not over, but at least one day I’m going to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said a visibly relieved Harkat, who couldn’t seem to stop smiling.

“It gives me another day to breathe on this earth. It’s just a matter of time to clear my name and declare I’m innocent.”

The appeal court found Harkat’s right to a fair hearing was compromised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which destroyed recordings of taped conversations from the mid-1990s.

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Terror suspect wins partial court victory

posted on April 26, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Mike Blanchfield (CP)
Source: Metro News Ottawa
URL: [link]
Date: April 25, 2012

[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat takes part in a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Harkat, a suspected terrorist that the federal government wants to deport, has won a partial victory before the Federal Court of Appeal. ]

OTTAWA – A man the federal government wants to deport over alleged ties to al-Qaida has won a partial victory at the Federal Court of Appeal.

In a complex ruling Wednesday, the court upheld the constitutionality of Canada’s security certificate process in the case of Mohamed Harkat. But it also found that some evidence against him must be excluded from a new court hearing.

The former Ottawa pizza-delivery man faces removal from Canada under a certificate that declares him a security threat because of alleged terrorist links. He denies any terror connection.

Harkat and his lawyers greeted the ruling as good news because it gives him another chance to clear his name at a new Federal Court hearing at a later date.

He lives under house arrest with his wife, Sophie, under a strict set of conditions that includes wearing an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, weekly reporting to authorities and a ban on leaving town without permission.

The court ruled that the use of so-called special advocates — lawyers appointed as watchdogs for the accused during closed-door hearings — is constitutional.

But it also said that because the originals of certain conversations were destroyed by Canada’s spy agency, any remnants of that material must be excluded from a re-hearing of Harkat’s bid to quash the security certificate against him.

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Mohamed Harkat remporte une victoire partielle en Cour fédérale d'appel

posted on April 26, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: Radio-Canada URL: [link] Date: 25 avril 2012 press conference,  april 25, 2012
Mohamed Harkat après le jugement de la Cour fédérale d'appel.

Mohamed Harkat, soupçonné d'être un agent d'Al-Qaïda, remporte mercredi une victoire partielle en Cour fédérale d'appel. Le tribunal confirme la constitutionnalité du système canadien des certificats de sécurité dans le dossier de Harkat. La cour estime toutefois que certaines preuves déposées contre Harkat devront être exclues d'un nouvel examen du certificat de sécurité contre lui. Le tribunal juge que les enregistrements originaux de ces conversations ont été détruits par les autorités. Par ailleurs, la Cour fédérale d'appel juge constitutionnel le recours aux "avocats spéciaux" responsables de veiller aux intérêts de l'accusé lors d'audiences à huis clos. Réactions des proches de Harkat

Le jugement est bien accueilli par le Comité justice pour Mohamed Harkat. « Ça veut simplement dire qu'il ne sera pas déporté demain matin. Ce n'est pas fini. Le cauchemar pour lui continue. » — Christian Legeais, porte-parole du Comité justice pour Mohamed Harkat. Sophie Harkat, la femme du principal intéressé, se dit pour sa par surprise par la décision du tribunal. Elle est soulagée, mais est consciente que les démarches sont loin d'être terminées. « Ce n'est pas la décision idéale pour nous, parce que ça va encore étirer les choses. On veut abolir ce processus-là parce qu'un processus comme ça dans une démocratie ne devrait pas exister. » — Sophie Harkat, la femme de Mohamed Harkat Le résident d'Ottawa pourrait être expulsé du Canada en vertu d'un certificat selon lequel il représente une menace à la sécurité, en raison de ses présumés liens terroristes. L'homme de 43 ans, d'origine algérienne, a été arrêté en 2002, mais il nie toute activité terroriste. Il a été remis en liberté sous des conditions très strictes. En complément

Audio - Le journaliste René Hardy donne les détails du jugement de la Cour fédérale d'appel dans le dossier de Mohamed Harkat. Vidéo - Le journaliste Gilles Taillon explique la décision de la Cour fédérale d'appel dans le dossier de Mohamed Harkat. Tous droits réservés © Société Radio-Canada 2012.

CBC: Harkat wins partial victory in terrorism case

posted on April 26, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: CBC News URL: [link] Date: April 25, 2012 Mohamed Harkat is no closer to deportation today after the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa ordered his case back to a federal court judge, saying some of his rights had been violated. Harkat, a former Ottawa pizza delivery man, was arrested in 2002 and is facing removal from Canada under a certificate that declares him a security threat due to alleged terrorist links. Mohamed Harkat has been in and out of court fighting a deportation order since his arrest in 2002. A judge who scrutinized the certificate said Harkat maintained ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network, including Ahmed Said Khadr — the late father of Toronto's Omar Khadr, who has spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Harkat, 43, has repeatedly denied any involvement with political extremism. His lawyers argued to the Federal Court of Appeal that the security certificate system was unconstitutional, and said Harkat's rights were violated during the process because he was denied access to the evidence against him. The three-judge panel found Harkat's rights were violated because he was denied access to electronic recordings that have since been destroyed. The summaries of that evidence can now no longer be used against Harkat and requires the case to be reheard by the judge, said Court of Appeal Judge Gilles Létourneau in a written decision. The panel also found that the judge erred in finding CSIS informers fall into a privileged class who are granted conditions of anonymity. Security certificates constitutional

But the court did rule the current security certificate system is constitutional. The original security certificate system was thrown out by the Supreme Court five years ago, but revamped to include so-called special advocates — lawyers who serve as watchdogs and test the evidence on behalf of the defendant, but who are limited in their ability to pursue evidence beyond what they are presented. Wednesday's ruling is likely to be appealed. Harkat claims he's a refugee from Algeria and that he would be tortured if he's sent back. He lives at home with his wife, Sophie, but continues to wear an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, must check in with authorities weekly and cannot leave town without permission. Copyright © CBC 2012

Accused terrorist Harkat wins partial victory on appeal

posted on April 25, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: CTV News URL: Date: April 25, 2012 [PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat is shown as he leaves Canada Border Services Agency after receiving his deportation papers in Ottawa Friday Jan. 21, 2011.] Both the federal government and suspected terrorist Mohamed Harkat can claim partial victories, after the Federal Court of Appeal issued a complex ruling Wednesday on the process that placed Harkat under a security certificate. In its ruling, the court upheld the constitutionality of the government's security certificate process. However, it referred Harkat's case for a new hearing because the Ottawa man was not privy to the full contents of recorded evidence used against him. Those recordings have since been destroyed in keeping with policy of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The court said only the recorded conversations that Harkat was privy to may be used as evidence. The court also ruled that it was wrong for Harkat's trial judge to create a special "class privilege" for CSIS informers that guaranteed them rights to confidentiality and anonymity similar to police informants. The Ottawa gas station attendant and pizza delivery man was arrested in December 2002 on accusations that he had affiliation with al Qaeda, allegations he denies. His lawyers have also been fighting a deportation order to Harkat's native Algeria. © 2012 CTV All rights reserved.

‘Special advocate’ ruling a partial victory for Ottawa in terror case

posted on April 25, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Kirk Makin
Source: The Globe and Mail
URL: [link]
Date: April 25, 2012

A contentious terrorism provision creating the use of “special advocates” who are privy to secret government evidence is constitutional, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled today.

But the federal government’s victory triumph was tempered by a finding that the rights of suspected terrorist Mohamed Harkat were violated by the use of electronic recordings that have since been destroyed.

Any such evidence can only be used against Mr. Harkat if he was privy to the contents, the court said. It sent the case back to a trial judge for reconsideration based only on the portions that are properly admissible.

In another important victory for those targeted under the security certificate process, the three-judge panel found that Mr. Harkat’s trial judge was wrong to create a special “class privilege” for informers in these cases.

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Federal Court of Appeal Decision Has Been Released

posted on April 25, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal has released its decision in the case of Mohamed Harkat vs. The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and The Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The decision was made by a panel of 3 judges. You can download and read the Judgement below. English only. It consists of two documents: The Judgment, and The Reasons For Judgement, The Judgement: (a 2-page summary of the decision )
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Reasons for Judgement:(The decision. 89 pages)
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Canada quietly shutters 'Gitmo North' detention facility for terror suspects

posted on April 23, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Tobi Cohen
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: April 17, 2012

OTTAWA — The Kingston Immigration Holding Centre in Ontario, better known as Gitmo North, was quietly closed at the end of last year, saving the Canada Border Services Agency millions of dollars and bringing a sense of relief to the handful of men who were incarcerated there, Postmedia News has learned.

The costly facility, which opened in 2006 in the aftermath of 9/11 to detain just four terror suspects subject to controversial security certificates, often has been likened to the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, where prisoners of the Iraq and Afghan wars were sent.

The Cuban facility is where Canadian war criminal and former child soldier Omar Khadr remains incarcerated and there's been speculation he could be held at Gitmo North should his request for transfer to Canada go through.

It's a prospect, however, that now seems unlikely.

"Following a review of the KIHC by the (Canada Border Services Agency) in 2009, it was decided that the facility should be permanently closed in order to allow the agency to better align its resources. Accordingly, KIHC was closed on December 31, 2011," CBSA spokeswoman Esme Bailey confirmed in an email.

"The CBSA has achieved approximately $2.5 million in annual savings by closing the KIHC."

Julie Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, added there are "no plans for the future" of the facility which is located on the grounds of Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security prison.

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'Misguided zeal' followed 9/11: former CIA agent

posted on April 23, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Ian Macleod
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: April 8,2012

Information from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency used by Canada to link accused Ottawa terrorist Mohamed Harkat to “al-Qaeda’s banker” was untrue, according to a former senior CIA case officer.

The man thought to be Osama bin Laden’s main financial fixer “wasn’t the senior member of al-Qaeda that we had assessed. He wasn’t even a member of al-Qaeda,” retired U.S. spy Glenn Carle, who interrogated the man at secret CIA black site prisons in 2002, told an Ottawa gathering to promote his blistering memoir about the case, The Interrogator: An Education.

Yet as recently as 2010, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) evidence and testimony before the Federal Court of Canada continued to point to Harkat’s relationship with Haji Pacha Wazir as evidence of Harkat’s ties to the bin Laden terror network.

It is the second time the veracity of key prosecution evidence against Harkat has been questioned in the government’s decade-long campaign to have him declared a national security threat and deported to his native Algeria.

Another supposed high-level al-Qaeda player named Abu Zubaydah, whom federal prosecutors also linked to Harkat, has since been exposed by some U.S. al-Qaeda hunters as a small-time operative who was found to be “certifiably insane” after his 2002 capture.

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Human-rights group demands recall of federal torture directive to CSIS

posted on March 08, 2012 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill (CP) Source: The Winnipeg Free Press URL: [link] Date: March 6, 2012 Csis OTTAWA - A human-rights group wants the federal government to withdraw a directive permitting Canada's spy agency to share information even when there's a real risk it will lead to torture. In a letter to the public safety minister and the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Amnesty International Canada says the policy "is in direct contravention" of Canada's international obligations to prevent brutalization of prisoners. The government directive outlines instructions for deciding whether to share information when there is a "substantial risk" that doing so might result in someone in custody being abused. It also entrenches an earlier policy dictating that protection of life and property be the key considerations when deciding on the use of information that may have been extracted through torture. A copy of the July 2011 document was recently released under the Access to Information Act. Though unclassified, it had not been made public previously. Inappropriate sharing of information by Canadian authorities contributed to the torture of Arab-Canadians in Syria in the period following 9-11, points out the letter signed by Amnesty Canada's secretary general, Alex Neve. A resulting federal inquiry into the case of Ottawa engineer Maher Arar recommended that information never be provided to a foreign country where there is a credible risk that it will cause or contribute to the use of torture. The fact the new federal policy on information sharing may be limited to exceptional circumstances involving public safety concerns "is no justification as international law does not allow or excuse the use of torture in any circumstances," says the letter. "Governments are of course obligated to take action to respond to terrorist and other threats to public safety. But they must do so in ways that do not cause, contribute to or condone torture." Opposition MPs have roundly denounced the directive, saying there can be no compromise on torture. The provisions in the directive are "not acceptable to most Canadians," said NDP public safety critic Jasbir Sandhu. "We don't use information from torture," Sandhu said Tuesday in an interview. "I can tell you, Canadians didn't vote for this sort of hidden agenda." The federal government says that although it stands by the directive, it does not condone torture and strongly opposes the mistreatment of any individual. © 2012 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.

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