Source: The Ottawa Sun
Date: April 25, 2012
OTTAWA - Suspected terrorist Mohamed Harkat made significant headway in his fight against deportation on Wednesday.
The Federal Court of Appeal overturned electronic phone record evidence that Harkat’s lawyer said was pivotal in the case against him.
The records were recorded by CSIS and were said to pin terrorist ties to Harkat, but they’ve since been destroyed.
A three-panel judge said the records could no longer be used against him because he must be able to know what evidence is arrayed against him.
“My first response, my eyes started tearing down and my heart started pounding hard and I was shocked,” Hakart said.
“One day,, I’m going to clear my name. It gave me hope.”
But on Wednesday the Court of Appeal upheld the use of “special advocates,” who represent Harkat and are shown secret evidence denied to Harkat’s lawyers.“While we are pleased to see that the court did find that there were some glaring problems with respect to Mr. Harkat’s case, we are also disappointed that the court did not find unconstitutional the secret trial process,” said Matthew Behrens, a member of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials. Harkat said he’s been nervous ever since he found out the decision was coming down the pipe. “I couldn’t sleep, I had a hard time to adjust,” he said. “Today is back to normal. I’m glad the appeal came to this decision, it has helped me clear my name and declare I’m innocent.” The Algerian-born Harkat was arrested in Ottawa in 2002 and detained for three and a half years on a security certificate alleging he was connected to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and a risk to national security. He has consistently denied the allegations. Since his release from custody, he has been battling efforts to deport him to Algeria, where he alleges he’ll be tortured, and has said the security certificate process is unconstitutional because it prevents him from seeing secret evidence in the case. While Harkat is under house arrest, he must wear a GPS-tracking wristband, he can’t use the internet or the telephone, and he can’t leave Ottawa without the Canadian Border Service Agency’s approval. Harkat’s lawyers earlier argued that secret proceedings, the destruction of original material by CSIS and the limitations of special advocates meant he could not effectively challenge his case, a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision to disallow the electronic evidence will send the case back to a federal trial judge, prolonging Harkat’s more than 10-year ordeal. Timeline: Harkat court battle
Significant dates in the Mohamed Harkat case:
Dec. 10, 2002 -- Harkat is arrested outside his Ottawa apartment on a security certificate issued on the recommendation of CSIS.
Oct. 25, 2004 -- A hearing to determine the validity of the security certificate begins.
Dec. 10. 2004 -- The Federal Court of Appeal upholds a 2003 decision that declared the use of security certificates constitutional.
March 22, 2005 -- Federal Court Justice Eleanor Dawson upholds Harkat's security certificate.
Sept. 6, 2005 -- Federal Court of Appeal upholds security certificate.
Jan, 19, 2006 -- Top court agrees to hear Harkat's appeal.
Feb. 23, 2007 -- The Supreme Court rules security certificates unconstitutional, gives the government a year to rewrite the law.
Oct. 20, 2009 -- Federal Court Justice Simon Noel chastises CSIS for "filtering evidence" in failing to tell the court that an informant failed a 2002 lie detector test.
Feb. 1, 2010 -- Harkat takes the stand in his own defence.
June 2, 2010 -- Federal Court proceedings wrap up.
December 2010 -- Justice Noel gives Harkat deportation orders to be sent back to Algeria. Harkat appeals the decision, with his lawyers agruing the secret trial process violated his Charter rights.
Jan. 21, 2010 -- Harkat appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal to strike down the security certificate program because it's unconstitutional.
April 15, 2012 -- The court of appeal upholds his security certificate for a second time, but disallows key phone record evidence against Harkat, sending him back to a new federal trial.
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