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.

Minor victory for Harkat in fight against deportation

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

by Michael Aubry
Source: The Ottawa Sun
URL: [link]
Date: April 25, 2012

OTTAWA - Suspected terrorist Mohamed Harkat made significant headway in his fight against deportation on Wednesday.

The Federal Court of Appeal overturned electronic phone record evidence that Harkat’s lawyer said was pivotal in the case against him.

The records were recorded by CSIS and were said to pin terrorist ties to Harkat, but they’ve since been destroyed.

A three-panel judge said the records could no longer be used against him because he must be able to know what evidence is arrayed against him.

“My first response, my eyes started tearing down and my heart started pounding hard and I was shocked,” Hakart said.

“One day,, I’m going to clear my name. It gave me hope.”

But on Wednesday the Court of Appeal upheld the use of “special advocates,” who represent Harkat and are shown secret evidence denied to Harkat’s lawyers.

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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

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.

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