Emotional day for Harkat's supporters

posted on December 10, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Tobi Cohen Source: The Ottawa Sun URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2004 Public portion of hearing ends

Tears and hugs filled a federal courtroom where the public portion of accused terrorist Mohamed Harkat's security certificate hearing wrapped up yesterday -- just one day shy of the second anniversary of his arrest. Today also happens to be National Human Rights Day -- an irony his wife Sophie couldn't help but point out. "It's the conclusion of two years' worth of stress and work and this is the big decision now," Sophie sobbed just before leaving the courthouse. The ruling's "not appealable, so today I give my husband a hug and we don't know if it's going to be a victory hug ... or if it's going to be a goodbye hug, so it's really a sad moment."Government lawyers must still make their final remarks in a closed session on evidence deemed a threat to national security should it be made public. Yesterday, lawyers spent their final day in open court sparring over whether it was reasonable to issue a security certificate in Harkat's case. USED ALIAS

Should Federal Court Justice Eleanor Dawson find it reasonable, Harkat will likely be deported. Government lawyer James Matheson said Harkat lied to CSIS agents about an alias he used while working at a Muslim charity in Pakistan and about his relationship with an Ottawa taxi driver named Taher, whom he contacted upon his arrival in Canada and quickly befriended. He also questioned the route Harkat took to Canada after acquiring a phony Saudi passport, which Matheson noted is typical of Islamic extremists, and why he couldn't remember the names of people who helped him after he fled Algeria. Harkat's lawyer, Paul Copeland, argued much of the evidence he's seen involves sweeping generalizations that don't necessarily relate to his client. 'SECRET' INFO

He also noted Taher asked Harkat not to tell CSIS agents about their relationship and that Harkat was afraid and thought CSIS agents were looking for someone else when they asked about his alias. Copeland urged the judge to be skeptical of CSIS methods, particularly on its use of informants. "I think I did a thorough job. I haven't been able to dream up anything I could have done differently," Copeland said outside court. "So much of it depends on what the secret information is and how (the judge) approaches the secret information. "I'd say my job is to make the judge as paranoid and suspicious of CSIS as I am. Did I do that? I don't know," he said. Dawson said she hoped to deliver a verdict soon after hearing Matheson's in-camera arguments, but noted Adil Charkaoui's case could affect her decision. The Montreal man, who is also accused of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, appealed his case on constitutional grounds just last month. If he wins, it will likely affect Harkat's decision. Members of the Committee for Justice for Mohamed Harkat, along with high-profile speakers, including the NDP's Ed Broadbent, will gather on Parliament Hill at 10 a.m. today to denounce use of security certificates. tobi dot cohen at ott dot sunpub dot com Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.