Harkat review urged

posted on August 10, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Lisa Lisle Source: The Ottawa Sun URL: n/a Date: August 7, 2004 Harkat review urged Judge wants new meetings with Feds

A Federal Court judge wants the government to take another look at its top-secret evidence against Mohamed Harkat to determine if it should still be kept under wraps. Justice Eleanor Dawson asked last month to meet with government lawyers "for the purpose of determining if as a result of the effluxion of time any further summary of the information or evidence may be provided to Mr. Harkat." "Some time has passed since the court examined the information on which the security certificate was based in order to consider whether disclosure of all or part of that information would be injurious to national security or to the safety of any person," she wrote in her order. A closed hearing was scheduled for yesterday to also consider a request from Harkat's lawyer, Paul Copeland, for additional disclosure, but it was cancelled, giving the government time to consider allowing another lawyer into the hearings.ACCURACY REVIEW

Copeland asked that the court hire a lawyer to help review the top-secret evidence to test its "reliability, the accuracy of the evidence, the existence of contrary information, and the credibility and training of those offering opinions in regard to this case." Since Harkat's Dec. 10, 2002, arrest under a rarely used section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Dawson has reviewed the evidence at least twice to determine what should be released to Harkat and his lawyers. The Algerian national is accused of having ties to al-Qaida, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) -- the first terrorist organization to be banned in Canada after the Sept. 11 attacks -- and the mujahedeen. However, neither Harkat nor his lawyers have seen much of the evidence that led to those conclusions. Last week, in his first jailhouse interview since his arrest, Harkat told the Sun that he couldn't imagine what that evidence might be. DENIES TERROR TIES

In addition to denying having any ties to terrorism, Harkat said he didn't know Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants. CSIS claims that Zubaydah fingered Harkat as a mujahedeen supporter who operated a guest house in Pakistan in the mid-1990s for mujahedeen travelling to Chechnya. Because CSIS said he was identified by "physical description," Copeland asked that the government at least provide him or the court "the physical description given of the person that your service identifies as Harkat." He also requested that the government reveal whether Zubaydah was tortured. The government's only response so far is that Copeland is making "certain assumptions" on how foreign agencies interrogate alleged terrorists. "Your assumptions do not appear to be supported by reliable evidence," Justice Department lawyer James Mathieson wrote in a July 23 letter to Copeland. The secret hearing is expected to be rescheduled next week. lisa.lisle at ott dot sunpub dot com Illustration: photo of MOHAMED HARKAT © Copyright 2004, The Ottawa Sun