by Michelle Zilio
Date: December 10, 2012
In 2002, Mohamed Harkat had many hopes for his future, including a modest home, kids and a “normal life” with his wife Sophie. He was working as a pizza delivery man and gas station cashier at the time.
A decade later, Harkat is fighting to stay in Canada and avoid deportation. Ten years ago Monday, on International Human Rights Day, Harkat was arrested in Ottawa on a security certificate, a rarely-used removal instrument for non-citizens suspected of being spies or terrorists. He was jailed for 43 months followed by 3.5 years of the toughest bail and house arrest conditions in Canadian history.
“Before I got arrested, we were planning to have a house, have kids, have normal life, and now it’s all up in the air,” said Harkat, an Algerian citizen who made his refugee claim in Canada in 1995. “Ten years later, I have been left in (the) dark.”
While the government has suspicions of him being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, Harkat has consistently denied any links to terrorism. He is one of three men in Canada, all Muslims, who have appeared before the courts on a security certificate.
Standing in the rain on Parliament Hill Monday morning, Harkat and approximately 20 supporters marked the 10th anniversary of his initial arrest.
“It’s a sad day. It’s supposed to be celebrating human rights in Canada and justice for all. Ten years later, you see me fighting for something everybody has a right to — an open and fair trial,” said Harkat.
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