La cause de Harkat de retour en Cour suprême

posted on October 16, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Marc Godbout
Source: Radio-Canada
URL: [link]
Date 10 octobre 2013

>>> REPORTAGE VIDEO IÇI <<<

La Cour suprême du Canada entend, jeudi et vendredi, la cause de Mohamed Harkat, cet Ottavien d'origine algérienne soupçonné d'activités terroristes par le gouvernement canadien.

Mohamed Harkat conteste la constitutionnalité du certificat de sécurité délivré contre lui et qui a permis aux autorités canadiennes de l'arrêter.

L'audition de la cause sera entourée de secret. Pour la première fois dans l'histoire du plus haut tribunal du pays, la journée d'audience de vendredi aura lieu à l'extérieur de l'édifice de la Cour suprême. Les juges seront retranchés dans un endroit tenu secret pour des raisons de sécurité nationale.

Une dizaine d'intervenants doivent défiler devant le tribunal, dont la directrice générale du Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés, Janet Dench.

« C'est une ironie, parce qu'on est en train de contester l'utilisation des preuves secrètes pour décider du sort d'un non-citoyen et là, on va également utiliser des audiences secrètes », souligne Mme Dench.

Mohamed Harkat réclame l'abolition du certificat de sécurité parce qu'il repose sur des documents secrets qui ont été détruits. Des groupes qui l'appuient estiment que cette procédure va à l'encontre des droits fondamentaux de Mohamed Harkat.

Au cours de l'audition, les avocats spéciaux nommés par le gouvernement et chargés de défendre les intérêts de Harkat viendront dire au tribunal qu'ils ne peuvent pas faire leur travail.

De son côté, le gouvernement fédéral demandera au plus haut tribunal du pays de maintenir le certificat de sécurité. Il estime toujours que Mohamed Harkat représente une menace à la sécurité du pays.

Jeudi matin, une cinquantaine de personnes arborant des affiches se sont rassemblées devant l'édifice de la Cour suprême en appui à Mohamed Harkat pour dénoncer les certificats de sécurité.

Rappel des faits

Mohamed Harkat, 45 ans, a été arrêté en décembre 2002 en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité parce que le Canada le soupçonnait d'être un agent dormant du réseau terroriste Al-Qaïda. Il avait ensuite été remis en liberté sous des conditions très strictes.

En avril dernier, la Cour d'appel fédérale confirmait la constitutionnalité du système canadien des certificats de sécurité dans le dossier de Harkat. La Cour estimait toutefois que certaines preuves déposées contre lui devaient être exclues d'un nouvel examen du certificat de sécurité.

En juillet, Mohamed Harkat a reçu l'autorisation de retirer le bracelet de surveillance électronique qu'il portait à la cheville depuis sept ans.

L'ancien livreur de pizza et préposé dans une station-service habite à Ottawa avec sa femme, Sophie Harkat. Il nie toute activité terroriste.

Avec les informations de René Hardy

Tous droits réservés © Société Radio-Canada 2013.


Supreme Court set to weigh appeals of Mohamed Harkat case

posted on October 16, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Ian McLeod
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: October 10, 2013

OTTAWA — Mohamed Harkat looks anxious, like a man with a trap door beneath his feet.

He’s seated in the living room of his modest brown-brick rowhouse on Ottawa’s southeast side. Sophie Lamarche Harkat, his wife and foremost defender, is at his side. The place is neat and tidy. The rest of their life is a mess.

Canada’s national security apparatus has had a stranglehold on Harkat since Dec. 10, 2002, when the gas station cashier was arrested here as an alleged al-Qaida “sleeper” agent.

It was international Human Rights Day. The recently married Algerian refugee claimant was hauled off to prison for 42 months under a secretive security certificate that allows federal immigration authorities to deport non-citizens deemed a threat to national security.

Then came seven years of virtual house arrest. All with no criminal charge and no trial.

After more than a decade Harkat, now 45, and his lawyers are still fighting deportation on grounds that call into question the state of fundamental justice in Canada.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court sits in open session to consider aspects of the case and whether national security secrecy trumps judicial transparency, accountability and the right to a full defence.

Both the government and Harkat are appealing a 2012 Federal Court of Appeal decision, which ruled that Harkat deserves a new Federal Court hearing to determine if he’s a threat to national security; that his right to a fair hearing was compromised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which destroyed recordings of taped conversations from the mid-1990s; and that CSIS informants are not entitled to the blanket legal protection given to police informants to shield their identities.

On Friday, the high court is to reconvene in an extraordinary session at an ultrasecret, secure location to hear classified arguments. Harkat and his lawyers are barred from attending.

And therein lies the central issue — secrecy.
They’ve never been told the full extent of the security certificate case against him. They have never been allowed to confront and challenge the anonymous human source who supposedly led CSIS to label Harkat an Islamic terrorist and member of a “sleeper cell.”

They can’t converse with the “special advocate” — a security-cleared lawyer who represents Harkat’s interests at secret court hearings — about the classified information at the heart of the case.

And the special advocate can’t interview or cross-examine the CSIS human source.

Security-intelligence agencies, meanwhile, exist on sources and secrets. Human sources understandably want air-tight anonymity. Disclosing covert information can reveal an agency’s methods and tradecraft.

An intelligence service that can’t protect its sources and tradecraft is doomed.

The courtroom clash between individual rights and freedoms and the sanctity of state secrets is a growing post-9/11 phenomenon. Lawyers on both sides are testing the bounds of nascent and existing national security laws as they apply to disclosure, evidentiary standards and the courtroom testimony of security service personnel and human sources.

The ground is shifting under organizations such as CSIS. In 2009, a Montreal judge ordered government lawyers to reveal the evidence they had against Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui, arrested on a security certificate in 2003. CSIS balked at the disclosure demand, withdrew the evidence and the case collapsed.

A Canadian citizen in Harkat’s shoes would never face such a legal straitjacket. Security certificates only target people the government considers dangerous foreigners. It’s a powerful tool, intended to quickly remove a perceived national security threat.

Until Harkat, that is.

He came to Canada as a refugee claimant in 1995, after living in Pakistan, where CSIS alleges he once operated a guest house in the city of Peshawar for Islamic extremists travelling to Chechnya. CSIS monitored his activities upon his arrival and, for at least two years beginning in the fall of 1996, intercepted his telephone conversations.

In the months following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, CSIS concluded Harkat was a high-level al-Qaida “sleeper” agent awaiting instructions to launch a mission, much like the old Soviet KGB days.

But a decade later, there’s no evidence al-Qaida ever had sleeper operatives, says a leading U.S. expert on security intelligence and al-Qaida.

“There’s a big difference between having somebody who is potentially sympathetic to al-Qaida, or even an al-Qaida member abroad, in Canada or wherever, and having a sleeper agent who has been consciously placed there waiting for a particular message to take a particular action,” says Mark Stout, program director of global security studies at Johns Hopkins University and a former intelligence analyst with the U.S. State Department and Central Intelligence Agency.

“I am completely unaware of any evidence of sleeper agents in that formal sense ever existing. What it really boils down to is that in the first months and few years after 9/11, the notion of an al-Qaida sleeper agent was entirely plausible, but it just never ever panned out.”

An updated 2009 CSIS assessment concluded Harkat’s alleged role in the international Islamic extremist movement prior to his arrival in Canada “appears to have been largely logistics and facilitation.”

Judges have twice deemed Harkat a terrorist and ordered him deported, only to have their findings overturned by higher courts that found the legal process wanting. It wasn’t until 2009, for example, that CSIS informed a federal judge that a key source in the case — believed to be the crucial informant — flunked a lie-detector test, bringing the service’s credibility under fire.

“Charge me or let me go,” Harkat says now, sitting beneath the spot where an unblinking government closed-circuit television camera was once bolted to the living room ceiling to monitor the couple’s home life.

“You can’t drag me for 11 years. I’m not criminal, I’m not like hurt anybody. I’m not bad person, I’m a family person, a good person, a loving person. I wish I’m made from glass, they just can see through me, what’s in my heart.”

The pugnacious Sophie Harkat jumps in and drops the gloves: “Let’s put it on the table,” in open criminal court. “If it’s such a strong case, put it on the table for all Canadians to judge.

“By having secret evidence they get away with too much, they get away with stuff that nobody else will ever know. National security is an excuse now for not having to show stuff that might not be even strong enough to be put in a (criminal) court of law.”

The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision could go many ways. In 2007, the court struck down a previous incarnation of the security certificate process as fundamentally unjust since it denied defendants, including Harkat, the right to meet the case against them. The government responded by introducing special advocates to the mix. Federal lawyers say the move provides defendants a “substantial substitute” to full government disclosure.

Should the court uphold the constitutionality of the current regime, Harkat will descend to a new circle of hell.

Deportation as an accused jihadist will lead to an Algerian torture chamber, he says.

Any move toward deportation would trigger “a whole separate (legal) battle,” featuring Canada’s signature on the United Nation’s Convention Against Torture, says Sophie Harkat.

“It would be nice,” she says, “if the government took a step back and looked at it and said, ‘We made mistakes, we destroyed the evidence, the informant didn’t pass his (polygraph) test, we’ll just end it right here.’”

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


VIDEO: AlJazeera Canada Reports on Security Certificates

posted on October 15, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink




PHOTOS: Searching for Justice. Searching for the Justices

posted on October 14, 2013 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Here are some more photos courtesy of Murray Lumley. These were taken on, October 11th, the morning of the secret portion of the Supreme Court proceedings. Social justice activist Matthew Behrens led a group of "crime scene investigators" through downtown Ottawa searching for the secret location of the secret Supreme Court hearings.

Searching For the Justices 1

Searching For the Justices 2

Searching For the Justices 3

See more photos from the "investigation" of October 11th.



PHOTOS from the morning of October 10th, outside Supreme Court Building

posted on October 14, 2013 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Here are some photos from our friend Murray Lumley taken on the morning of the public Supreme Court hearings.

Secrecy Kills Democracy

10 Years of Injustice

See more photos from the visual presentation of October 10th.



OPINION: The Supreme Court's secret hearing

posted on October 13, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

By Kent Roach
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: October 8, 2013

The Supreme Court’s decision to hold a closed hearing this week as part of Mohamed Harkat’s security certificate hearing is disquieting.

Nevertheless, it is part and parcel of the problematic practice of using secret intelligence as evidence.

The closed Supreme Court hearing will involve an adversarial challenge between government lawyers and security-cleared special advocates. Neither Harkat, an Algerian refugee who was arrested in Ottawa in 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, nor his lawyers will be present. This will strike many as unfair, but it replicates what happens in security certificates.

As also happens under security certificates, the special advocates who are supposed to represent Harkat’s interests in the closed hearing were only allowed to meet with Harkat’s lawyers in limited and judicially controlled circumstances.

In February of 2013, the Supreme Court allowed the special advocates to meet with Harkat’s lawyers, but only to discuss matters of “legal strategy.” The special advocates were warned that “no classified information will be directly or indirectly disclosed during such communications.”

And there is the rub. What if one’s “legal strategy” depends on what the “classified information” says?

The Supreme Court in its public order about the secret hearing used the telling and American term “classified information.” As found by both the Arar and Air India commission, the government over-classifies information. The security certificate regime encourages this practice by not allowing judges to balance the competing interests in secrecy and disclosure.

The special advocates are supposed to ensure that the detainees are treated fairly and that judges are fully informed about the relevant law and facts. But can the special advocates do their job properly if they are not allowed to consult with the detainee about the secret evidence that is being used against him? That is a central question the court must decide in this important appeal.

The secret evidence used in security certificate proceedings is intelligence that does not have to satisfy evidentiary standards. It may have been obtained from foreign agencies that use torture. It may be obtained, as is a concern in the Harkat case, from unreliable human sources.

The reliability of the secret evidence is often difficult to judge because the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) — effectively the police force in these cases — destroyed original notes and intercepts after it made summaries until the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that such a policy was illegal. Another issue in the appeal is whether it is fair to use CSIS’s summaries when they cannot be verified against the original information. The Court of Appeal concluded the summaries were the problem, not the solution.

The governments that are defending security certificates will have a strong argument that the system is fairer than a previous one struck down by the Supreme Court in 2007 that provided for no adversarial challenge of the secret evidence. In addition, Parliament attempted to charter-proof the new regime by allowing judges to allow special advocates to do what is necessary to ensure the fairness of the proceedings.

But the idea of judicial approval is problematic. It is based on a fear that the security-cleared advocates may inadvertently spill secrets even though they could go to jail for doing so. It requires the special advocates and the detainee to share their litigation strategies with the judge and perhaps even the government. Government lawyers have access to the same and likely more secrets, but they are not subject to the same restrictions if they decide to consult colleagues or experts about the case.

The governments have undermined their arguments that the new system is better than the old and consistent with the charter by making the aggressive argument that the identity of CSIS sources should be protected by a near absolute privilege that could mean that even special advocates will not be able to know who the sources are.

The governments argue that the identity of CSIS sources should be secret, just like the identity of police sources. The critical difference, however, is that if the evidence of a police informer is used in a prosecution, the informer’s identity will be revealed when they take the stand and are cross-examined. The identity of CSIS sources remain secret. They are never cross-examined even though their evidence can be used to indefinitely detain and deport non-citizens, possibly to torture.

The special advocates in the Harkat case asked the judge to allow them to cross-examine at least one of the human sources, but the judge said no. Presumably part of the closed hearing will examine this important question. It will test the traditional view that cross-examination is the best way to determine truth.

The Supreme Court will have to decide not only if the new system is constitutional but also whether secret intelligence can fairly be used as evidence. The court’s novel use of closed hearings means that the court will gain first-hand experience with this problematic practice.

It remains to be seen whether the court will conclude that the practice is fair.

Kent Roach is the Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and the author of The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen



[AUDIO] CBC's Michael Enright talks with Prof. Mike Larsen About Security Certificates

posted on October 07, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

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CBC's The Sunday Edition: Security Certificates (October 6, 2013)

Download the interview with Mike Larsen:

download MP3


New photos added

posted on October 07, 2013 | in Category Website-Related | PermaLink

On October 3rd The Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee staged a Visual Presentation to protest government secrecy and to inform the public about Mohamed Harkat's upcoming Supreme Court hearings (October 10, 9:00am) in which he will challenge the security certificate regime that he has lived under for more than a decade.

visual presentation in Ottawa, Oct. 3

The presentation was held at the Human Rights monument on Elgin Street in Ottawa.

Click on the above to see more photos from that day. All photos courtesy of Philippe Parent.


[OTTAWA, OCT 10] A staged adaptation of Kafka's The Trial

posted on September 24, 2013 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

The Trial



Mohamed Harkat se libère de son bracelet électronique

posted on July 22, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Marc Godbout
Source: Radio-Canada
URL: [link]
Date: 18 juillet 2013

[ LINK: Un video reportage de Marc Godbout ]

Mohamed Harkat, un homme d'Ottawa soupçonné d'être un collaborateur d'Al-Qaïda, s'est fait retirer son bracelet GPS après l'avoir porté pendant sept ans, à la suite d'un jugement de la Cour fédérale rendu mercredi.

Le juge Simon Noël considère que M. Harkat, qui a toujours nié tout lien avec le terrorisme, représente un faible danger, sans compter que les autorités fédérales n'ont pas réévalué son dossier depuis 2009.

De plus, le résident d'Ottawa n'a brisé aucune de ses conditions depuis sa libération. Celles-ci sont disproportionnées par rapport au danger qu'il représente, selon le magistrat.

Le bracelet électronique que Mohamed Harkat portait à la cheville permettait aux autorités de le retracer en tout temps. M. Harkat avait demandé en juin le retrait de son GPS, arguant notamment que le dispositif nuisait à son travail et l'empêchait de dormir, l'affectant physiquement et psychologiquement.

M. Harkat, un réfugié algérien arrêté en décembre 2002 en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité, était assigné à résidence, à Ottawa, avec des conditions très strictes depuis sept ans. L'ancien livreur de pizza et préposé dans une station-service habite avec sa femme Sophie.

Le gouvernement du Canada avait assoupli récemment ses conditions de libération, lui permettant notamment d'utiliser son téléphone cellulaire.

Le couple soulagé

L'Ottavien a enlevé son bracelet mercredi soir dans les bureaux de l'Agence des services frontaliers, explique sa femme Sophie Harkat. Elle se dit « surprise », mais heureuse de cette décision. Selon elle, il serait « le détenu qui a porté le [bracelet électronique] le plus longtemps dans l'histoire du Canada ».

« On est vraiment, vraiment contents aujourd'hui. On est à une étape plus proche de la liberté, de la justice. Je pense que c'est un pas dans la bonne direction. » — Sophie Harkat

« Mon mari est extrêmement heureux. C'est la première fois depuis longtemps que je voyais vraiment les yeux de mon mari illuminés », constate Mme Harkat.

Mohamed Harkat pourra posséder son propre téléphone cellulaire, sans accès à Internet toutefois. Il aura également un ordinateur portable avec accès à Internet, mais les services frontaliers pourront le vérifier une fois par mois.


[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat s'est fait enlever son bracelet, mercredi soir, dans les bureaux de l'Agence des services frontaliers du Canada. Photo: Sophie Harkat]

Par ailleurs, le couple aura le droit de voyager au Canada sans approbation, mais en donnant un avis de cinq jours aux autorités canadiennes.

Ils étaient jusqu'ici limités à l'Ontario et au Québec et devaient obtenir l'approbation des services frontaliers avant de sortir d'Ottawa.

Toutefois, Mohamed Harkat n'est pas en libération totale, il doit par exemple continuer de rendre des comptes aux autorités, explique sa femme.

La cause de M. Harkat doit encore être entendue en Cour suprême, en octobre. « On a vraiment hâte de se présenter devant la Cour suprême pour débattre la constitutionnalité des certificats de sécurité », dit Sophie Harkat.

Tous droits réservés © Société Radio-Canada 2013.


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