Almrei toasts court decision

posted on December 16, 2009 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Source: The Mississauga News
URL: [link]
Date: February 15, 2009

Mississauga resident Hassan Almrei, pegged by CSIS after 9/11 as a terror suspect linked to terror kingpin Osama Bin Laden, celebrated the defeat of the federal government's deportation case against him by having a non-alcoholic drink yesterday with his lawyers.

His team of lawyers, however, toasted victory with champagne.

"This is a huge decision," said lead lawyer Lorne Waldman.

Yesterday, more than eight years after Almrei's arrest, a Federal Court of Canada judge threw out the security certificate against him, concluding the evidence — both secret and public — against the Syrian native does not hold up to scrutiny.

In a landmark ruling, Justice Richard Mosley declared "unreasonable" the security certificate that deemed Almrei a threat to national security.

Almrei was first arrested in October 2001 in his Cooksville apartment. He as released last March under strict monitoring conditions that include an electronic tracking bracelet on his leg.

He said yesterday he had waited a long time for this day.

"I'm glad. I cannot describe how happy I am," he said from his lawyer's office. "At the same time, I'm sad it took me more than eight years."Almrei, who entered Canada on a forged passport and was granted refugee status, said the "stigma" might never go away.

"It may take some time to prove one's innocence but at least now I can stand and look you in the eye and say ... you can believe Justice Mosley now. He's not my friend, or neighbour, or my lawyer — he is a judge and he decided based on evidence before him."

The judge's decision throws further doubt on the federal government's legal regime for trying to deport foreign nationals it deems a national security threat. Ottawa says it has undertaken a sweeping review of the mechanisms used to deal with such threats.

Mosley was a federal assistant deputy justice minister who helped draft Canada's post 9/11 anti-terror laws before being named to the bench in 2003. He ruled that while there were "reasonable grounds to believe that Hassan Almrei was a danger to the security of Canada when he was detained in 2001," he concluded "there are no longer reasonable grounds to believe that he is a security risk today."

"The court is satisfied that Almrei is not and was not a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe has engaged in terrorism," wrote Mosley.
Waldman said the controls governing Almrei's release might be formally lifted within days. There is still the possibility the federal government could seek to appeal.

The evidence against Almrei was based on informants' tips, wiretaps and his admitting to having travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

CSIS queried foreign agencies about Almrei, Mosley wrote, but he "was not known to be an extremist suspect by the authorities in the jurisdictions canvassed."

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