Harkat finally gets his day in court

posted on October 29, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: N/A
Source: CBC.CA
URL: [link]
Date: October 28 2004

OTTAWA - The wife of accused terrorist Mohamed Harkat says she was pleased with the way things went when he got his first-ever chance to tell his story in court, Wednesday.

Sophie Harkat says, "He told me he's innocent. So that's how he portrayed himself. He looked like an innocent man. I believe he still does have an ounce of faith in the system - that he will get out. He does. I don't."

She says she has no faith in the security-certificate system, which allows the Canadian government to jail foreigners without charging them, if it thinks they may be a threat to national security. She says the open nature of Wednesday's hearing was meaningless, because her husband can't defend himself against evidence that the Crown will later be able to present to the judge in secret.Mohamed Harkat was an Algerian refugee claimant, arrested under a security certificate two years ago, but testifying in court for the first time, Wednesday. The government alleges he is a sleeper agent for the Osama bin Laden terrorist network. A federal judge must decide whether to uphold or quash the security certificate.

Harkat testified about the period before he arrived in Canada eight years ago, how he came to flee his native Algeria, and why he ended up working for the Muslim World League near Peshawar, Pakistan, a focal point of Islamic militancy, where Osama bin Laden had an office.

Harkat stuck to the story he has told all along, that he was an aid worker helping refugees from Afghanistan's civil war. He denied that he had ever entered Afghanistan, as CSIS alleges, or even set eyes on the border. He insisted that his knowledge of al-Qaeda and the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria came from CNN and Radio Monte Carlo, rather than personal involvement with the cause.

Sophie Harkat says recent revelations about how Harkat came to be a suspect have her more convinced than ever that her husband has been misidentified. Harkat was named by a senior al-Qaeda leader captured in Afghanistan, Abu Zubaydah. Human Rights Watch and other groups have complained in recent weeks that Abu Zubaydah may have been extensively tortured while in U.S. custody, making his testimony unreliable.

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