Security Certificates

Case against Harkat unconstitutional, his lawyers argue

posted on March 30, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Mohammed Adam
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: March 30, 2010

OTTAWA — The lawyers for Mohamed Harkat asked a Federal Court Tuesday to throw out the case against him, saying the security certificate law under which he was declared an al-Qaeda sleeper agent is unconstitutional.

Lawyer Norm Boxall's main argument was that much of the hearing is being held in secret without Harkat knowing the case against him.

The challenge goes back to a three-year-old Supreme Court of Canada decision that declared the original security certificate regime unconstitutional because the accused were not able to know the case against them. The court gave the federal government one year to fix the law, which it did by bringing in the special advocate.

But Boxall said the new law remains fundamentally flawed. Harkat still doesn't know the case against him in order to mount a proper defence and the special advocates who are supposed to represent his interests in the closed hearings are restricted in what they can do, Boxall said.

Crucially, he added, the special advocates cannot talk to Harkat and get instructions from him and they cannot talk to his open-court lawyers.

"The case should not be decided substantially in secret," he said.

The government alleges Harkat, a pizza delivery man in Ottawa, came to Canada in 1995 from Pakistan as a sleeper agent. In 2002, he was declared a national security threat and detained under the security certificate process. The hearing is to determine whether the government was right to detain him. He faces deportation to his native Algeria if the judge rules against him. Harkat has denied he was a sleeper agent or that he had any contact with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, as the government contends.

The hearing was to continue Tuesday afternoon.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Bill Siksay: Security certificates have failed Canada

posted on March 20, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Bill Siksay , opinion piece
Source: - Vancouver's Online Source
URL: [link]
Date: March 18, 2010

With court cases challenging their constitutionality and evidence mounting that they have been abused, it is time for Canada to eliminate the ill-conceived security certificate process.

Over the past 10 years, the government has used security certificates to imprison people for years without charge, trial, or conviction. Those jailed and their lawyers don’t know the evidence against them. Engaging this process, the government has twisted the very foundations of Canada’s legal traditions.

The ministers responsible for administering these certificates and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have abused the system by failing to review and withholding crucial information.

These were the findings of Federal Court justice Richard Mosley on December 14, when he quashed the security certificate against Hassan Almrei.

[ Read the rest ... ]

Adil Charkaoui says civil suit against govt is about restoring reputation

posted on March 13, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Source: The The Canadian Press via CTV News
URL: [link]
Date: March 12, 2010

MONTREAL — A simple "sorry" and an offer to pay his legal fees might have sufficed, but Adil Charkaoui said he didn't even get that courtesy from the federal government.

So the Moroccan-born Montrealer who was accused by Ottawa of being a terrorist and who spent several years living under tight restrictions believes he was left with little choice but to sue the federal government.

Charkaoui said Friday he intends to sue for $24.5 million to restore his tattered reputation after failing to get an apology from Ottawa.

He said the civil suit, filed in Quebec Superior Court on Feb. 22, is not about the money.

"I'm doing it to clear my name, this is very important for me," Charkaoui told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview between teaching classes.

[ Read the rest ... ]

Federal Judge denies Harkat's lawyer permission to speak at conference on security certificates

posted on February 05, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Mohammed Adam
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: February 4, 2010

OTTAWA — Federal Judge Simon Noël Thursday denied Mohamed Harkat’s special advocate permission to speak on security certificates at a Toronto law conference this month, citing national security.

Paul Copeland, who represents Harkat in the closed hearings where sensitive information on national security is discussed, cannot speak publicly about the case without permission from Noël. In December, Copeland asked the court for permission to speak about the public phase of the Harkat hearing at the annual conference of the Law Union of Ontario, of which he is a founding member. The Toronto lawyer, who has been practising for more than 40 years, promised “not to discuss any aspect of the closed hearings or evidence that was regarded as subject to national security confidentiality.”

Government lawyers objected, saying Copeland could inadvertently revealed sensitive information that could harm national security. They pointed out that the speakers include Barbara Jackman who represents two people whose security certificate hearing is to begin soon. As well, Hassan Almrei, whose security certificate was quashed recently, had been invited to speak, even though he had not confirmed his participation. Copeland also acted as special advocate for Almrei.

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Lack of disclosure unfair to terror suspect, Harkat lawyer argues

posted on February 03, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Source: The Canadian Press
URL: [link]
Date: February 2, 2010

OTTAWA — A lawyer for Mohamed Harkat says it's unfair to the terror suspect that he has no idea how much of the evidence against him comes from CSIS wiretaps.

Matt Webber pleaded with the Federal Court today for an accounting of the spy service intercepts.

It is still unclear whether the federal government will divulge how many of the alleged conversations involving Harkat were picked up electronically or reported by human sources.

The government is trying to deport the Algerian-born Harkat using a national security certificate, a rarely employed immigration tool.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service alleges Harkat, arrested almost seven years ago, has ties to Islamic extremists.

The former gas-station attendant and pizza delivery man, who lives in Ottawa with his wife, denies involvement with terrorism.

Harkat began his second day of testimony today at hearings to test the validity of the security certificate.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Enough with fanatical government deception

posted on January 28, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Naseem Mithoowani, Special to QMI Agency
Source: The London Free Press
URL: [link]
Date: January 25, 2010

Recently, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley released a landmark 182-page decision in the case of Hassan Almrei, an individual who has spent much of the past eight years in detention, on the basis of a security certificate.

Security certificates allow our federal government to deport non-citizens who appear to pose a risk to national security, except where they would face almost certain torture or death in their home country. In these cases, individuals face indefinite detention without the benefit of typical legal protections, including an open trial. Problematically, the security certificate process relies heavily on secret evidence gathered by CSIS, Canada's spy agency.

Although Almrei remained unaware of the secret evidence against him, Mosley was able to review the entire case justifying his detention. Mosley ultimately reached the conclusion that Almrei "has not engaged in terrorism and is not and was not a member of an organization that . . . has, does or will engage in terrorism. I find that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that Hassan Almrei is today, a danger to the security of Canada."

This unequivocal conclusion begs the question: How could Almrei have been kept in jail for nearly eight years, if the case against him can be so confidently dismissed?

The answer lies in the extraordinary measures that CSIS took to deceive the court. The decision describes CSIS's many underhanded tactics, including failing to disclose exculpatory evidence and relying on outdated and unreliable evidence to support its position, without verifying accuracy.

[ Read the rest ... ]

Prior Federal Court ruling cited in Harkat's defence

posted on January 25, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Mohammed Adam Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: January 22, 2010 Mujahedeen leader in Almrei case 'not a terrorist,' judge found

A man the Canadian Security Intelligence Service considers a dangerous Islamic extremist -- and for whom Mohamed Harkat is said to have worked as a chauffeur -- was not a terrorist nor was he a member of Osama bin Laden's network, according to a Federal Court judge. In a recent judgment quashing the security certificate against Syrian-born immigrant Hassan Almrei, Justice Richard Mosley rejected CSIS's allegation that the late "mujahedeen" leader Ibn Khattab, with whom Almrei was also associated, was a terrorist. The judge acknowledged that there are reasonable grounds for others to disagree. "The weight of the evidence before me in this case, favours a finding that he was not a terrorist in his own right or a terrorist patron," Mosley wrote. "The information and evidence presented in this case, does not, in my opinion, support a finding that Khattab was a member of the bin Laden network." The Mosley decision was raised by Harkat's defence lawyers during the cross-examination of a CSIS agent Thursday, who is known only as John to protect his identity.

[ Read the rest ... ]

Accused terrorist not violent: CSIS agent

posted on January 20, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Mohammed Adam
Source: The Edmonton journal
URL: [link]
Date: January 19, 2010

Although terrorism suspect Mohamed Harkat was a "jihadist," CSIS has no evidence to suggest he was engaged in acts of violence, a CSIS agent said Monday.

And while his threat to Canada has diminished, there is still concern about him, the agent said.

On the first day of a Federal Court hearing to determine if the government was right to detain Harkat on suspicion that he is an al-Qaida sleeper agent, the CSIS agent -- identified only as John -- said the former Ottawa pizza deliveryman was a facilitator who handled logistics and ran errands.

"Ultimately, he is part of the support network that permits groups associated with the Bin Laden network to operate," John said. "He is part of the logistical underpinning of the threat."

[ Read the rest ... ]

Untenable, indeed

posted on January 07, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Janet Cleveland and Sharryn J. Aiken Source: The Globe and Mail URL: [link] Date: December 18, 2009 In your editorial The Untenable And The Repugnant (Dec. 15), you say: "It is repugnant to deport someone to be tortured. It is also untenable to hold them indefinitely in jail ..." Yet, you advocate ignoring the risk of torture for an immigrant or refugee suspected on security grounds. Do they not qualify as "someone"? On this reasoning, Hassan Almrei would long ago have been deported to Syria based on CSIS allegations described by the Federal Court as unfounded and unreliable. As former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour has said, "diplomatic assurances do not work as they do not provide adequate protection against torture and ill-treatment." And a number of individuals, notably Maher Arar, are known to have been tortured despite such assurances. The O'Connor commission concluded that Mr. Arar's torture in Syria is "a concrete example" that diplomatic assurances from totalitarian regimes have "no value." Why give any weight to assurances from countries that routinely practise torture and deny doing so? Why believe they'll respect their promise not to torture a particular individual when they repeatedly violate international law's ban on such crimes? Torture is carried out in secret. The Canadian government does not have the means or will to monitor respect of diplomatic assurances. Seeking such assurances is but a fig leaf for complicity in torture. © Copyright 2010 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Security certificate quashed by court (Almrei)

posted on January 07, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Cristin Schmitz Source: The Lawyers Weekly URL: [link] Date: December 25, 2009 Special advocates played key role in destroying government’s case

In a major test of the country’s new secrecy-shrouded special advocate regime, the Federal Court has quashed an “unreasonable” security certificate and condemned Canada’s spy agency for failing to voluntarily disclose secret evidence inconsistent with its allegations that an Arab man poses a risk to national security. On Dec. 14, Justice Richard Mosley quashed Hassan Almrei’s security certificate on the basis that there are presently no reasonable grounds to conclude that Almrei remains a danger to national security, even though he said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) did have reasonable grounds to consider the Syrian national dangerous when he was first detained on a security certificate in October 2001. (The law requires the court to assess whether there is a current risk to national security when deciding whether a certificate is reasonable). [PHOTO: Lorne Waldman and Sarah Boyd were Hassan Almrei’s public counsel.] While Almrei, who was admitted to Canada as a refugee in 1999, did lie to Canadian authorities, did associate with persons believed to be Sunni Muslim extremists and did engage in criminal activities, including using a false passport for himself, and was prepared to obtain false passports and travel documents for others, “the Hassan Almrei of 2001 is not the same person I heard and observed in the courtroom,” the judge explained.

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