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.

Harkat claims his phone conversations with lawyers were tapped “for years” by CSIS and CBSA. In April this year the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the constitutional validity of security certificates, but it also ruled that some recorded phone conversations that were used as evidence be thrown out because CSIS destroyed the original recordings. Harkat and his wife claim there is actually no original evidence against him. Both parties appealed to the Supreme Court — something which is extremely rare. And, both sides are pleased with the new developments. “Security certificates are necessary to protect Canadians from dangerous foreign nationals, including terrorists,” according to a statement by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. “It is clear that Canada is not immune from the threat of homegrown or international radical-led terrorism.” The Harkats have confidence in the system. “This means we have the green light to go to the highest court,” said Harkat. “That’s huge news for us. You know — high court, high hope.” Sophie describes the news a dream realized. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to go through two certificates and the federal court of appeal, but for me — the ultimate justice comes in the hands of the highest court,” she said. It’s not known when Harkat and lawyer Norm Boxall will appear before the Supreme Court. [email]

Twitter: @DougHempstead

Harkat and the courts:

- Dec. 10, 2002 — Harkat is arrested outside his Ottawa apartment on a security certificate issued on the recommendation of CSIS. - Oct. 25, 2004 — A hearing to determine the validity of the security certificate begins. - Dec. 10. 2004 — The Federal Court of Appeal upholds a 2003 decision that declared the use of security certificates constitutional. - March 22, 2005 — Federal Court Justice Eleanor Dawson upholds Harkat’s security certificate. - Sept. 6, 2005 — Federal Court of Appeal upholds security certificate. - Jan. 19, 2006 — Top court agrees to hear Harkat’s appeal. - Feb. 23, 2007 — The Supreme Court rules security certificates unconstitutional, gives the government a year to rewrite the law. - Oct. 20, 2009 — Federal Court Justice Simon Noel chastises CSIS for “filtering evidence” in failing to tell the court an informant failed a 2002 lie detector test. - Feb. 1, 2010 — Harkat takes the stand in his own defence. - June 2, 2010 — Federal Court proceedings wrap up. - December 2010 — Justice Noel gives Harkat deportation orders to be sent back to Algeria. Harkat appeals the decision, with his lawyers arguing the secret trial process violated his Charter rights. - Jan. 21, 2010 — Harkat appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal to strike down the security certificate program because it’s unconstitutional. - April 15, 2012 -- The court of appeal upholds his security certificate for a second time, but disallows key phone record evidence against Harkat, sending him back to a new federal trial. Both parties appealed to the Supreme Court. - Nov. 22, 2012 -- The Supreme Court announces it will hear Harkat’s appeal. Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved. The Ottawa Sun is a member of Canoe Sun Media Urban Newspapers.