National security lawyers decry lack of support for defending accused terrorists

posted on March 23, 2008 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

By Colin Perkel (CP)
Source: The Toronto Sun
URL: [link]
Date: March 23, 2008

TORONTO - Lawyers tasked under Canada's newly rewritten national security law with testing top secret evidence against alleged terrorists say they fear a lack of resources, including things as simple as an office with a secretary to type letters, could damage their ability to do the job.

As a result, several of the 19 special advocates are pressing the government to provide the help they say will be critical to their ability to function.

"Something like an office of the special advocate is going to be essential," said Gordon Cameron, a special advocate who was outside counsel to the committee that oversees the country's spy service.

"There's nothing in place right now. The special advocates wish things were further advanced."

Under the legislation passed last month, the elite group of lawyers will gain access to top secret information Canada's spy agency, CSIS, has against a suspected terrorist so they can challenge its validity in front of a judge in closed hearings.

Five men with alleged terrorism links have spent years in Canadian legal limbo based on such unseen evidence.

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