Torture of al-Qaida boss taints Harkat ID: Lawyer

posted on October 27, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Andrew Seymour
Source: The Ottawa Sun online
URL: [link]
Date: October 27, 2004

No weight should be given to the identification of an Ottawa man by a top al-Qaida lieutenant since the evidence was likely gained through torture, lawyers for Mohamed Harkat argued yesterday. On the second day of Harkat's security certificate hearing, lawyers Paul Copeland and Matthew Webber argued it was likely Abu Zubaydah was tortured prior to identifying Harkat as the proprietor of a Pakistani guest house for mujahadeen traveling to Chechnya in the mid-1990s.

"Based on everything we've seen, various media reports, the human rights report, our view is that we will be able to establish on a balance of probabilities for the judge that Abu Zubaydah was mistreated and tortured," Copeland said outside of court, adding Zubaydah's information is dubious at best.TREATY VIOLATION

"It shouldn't be admitted," he said. "It violates our international treaty obligations to use evidence or information used under torture." Copeland and Webber are trying to convince Federal Court Justice Eleanor Dawson that Harkat's security certificate, which alleges he is an al-Qaida sleeper agent, is not valid. If Harkat loses his arguments, he could be deported. Yesterday, Copeland entered into evidence an affidavit from US constitutional rights lawyer Steven Watt on the mistreatment of prisoners, including Zubaydah, while in U.S. custody. Zubaydah was captured in March 2002 following a gun battle in Pakistan where it is believed he was seriously injured. He is alleged to have identified Harkat by physical description following his capture. "It is clear that detainees in U.S. custody and control in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and other disclosed locations, including Abu Zubaydah, have been subjected to a regime of treatment, including interrogations, which constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and in many instances, torture," Copeland read from Watt's affidavit. "Any evidence adduced using such techniques, according to the United States own findings, will be inherently unreliable." In his affidavit, Watt, formerly of New York's Center for Constitutional Rights and now counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union, referred to a declassified August 2002 memo to Alberto Gonzales, counsel for U.S. President George Bush, which was also presented into evidence yesterday. Calling it a "chilling document", Webber said the memo supports the assertion prisoners were subjected to inhuman conditions. Harkat is expected to testify today. andrew dot seymour at ott dot sunpub dot com Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.