Informant likely tortured, Harkat defence tells hearing

posted on October 28, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Michelle Shephard Source: The Toronto Star online URL: N/A Date: Ocober. 27, 2004 Harkat lawyer questions interrogation methods Senior Al Qaeda figure described him

OTTAWA-The interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects in American custody are under scrutiny in the case of an Algerian refugee the Canadian government is attempting to deport, alleging he's a member of Al Qaeda. Lawyers for Mohamed Harkat argued at a federal court hearing yesterday that statements given by a high-profile prisoner concerning the 36-year-old Ottawa resident may have been gleaned under torture and should not be considered credible.Documents submitted to the federal court by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service state "a foreign service" informed the spy agency that Abu Zubaydah identified Harkat by his "physical description and his activities" and alleged he operated a guesthouse in Peshwar, Pakistan, in the mid-1990s for mujahideen travelling to Chechnya.

While it's unknown what information was supplied by government lawyers privately to Justice Eleanor Dawson, the public documents point to Zubaydah's evidence as a key aspect of the case.

Zubaydah (spelled Zubaida in CSIS documents) is believed to be one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants and the former leader of Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, according to testimony given by former Montreal resident Ahmed Ressam. Ressam was convicted in the United States of a 1999 plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport and testified he attended the camps, where he said he met Zubaydah.

American authorities captured Zubaydah in Pakistan in March, 2002 but will not disclose where he is now being held.

He is one of at least 11 suspected Al Qaeda members dubbed "ghost detainees" in a Human Rights Watch report that condemns American treatment of terrorism suspects.

Following the report's release, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an unnamed intelligence source as saying Zubaydah is being held in a CIA-controlled prison in Jordan.

Zubaydah was reportedly shot during his capture and there are allegations that denial of medical care was used as an interrogation technique.

"We shouldn't be using information obtained under torture," Harkat's lawyer Paul Copeland said outside court. "It's one thing to use that information for the purposes of stopping another Sept. 11. ... It's another thing to use it in a quasi-judicial proceeding and advance it knowing its been obtained under torture."

The hearing continues this week.

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