by Andrew Duffy
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
Date: June 26, 2012
OTTAWA — Mohamed Harkat’s legal odyssey will move into its second decade this year as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear the latest appeals in his terrorism case.
Both sides have now appealed elements of an April decision that struck down a judge’s finding that Harkat was a member of the al-Qaeda network.
The government has been trying to deport the Algerian-born Harkat using the country’s security certificate law since December 2002 when he was arrested outside his Ottawa apartment building.
Harkat, 43, has always maintained that he has no connection to al-Qaeda and will be tortured or killed if returned to Algeria.
For 10 years, the case has bounced between the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
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.
In April, the Federal Court of Appeal said Harkat’s right to fair trial had been compromised by the destruction of 13 wiretap recordings made by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) between 1996 and 1998.
Written summaries of those conversations offered critical evidence against Harkat, but without the full, original recordings, defence lawyers said they had no way to challenge their context or accuracy.
The appeal court agreed and ordered Judge Simon Noël to reconsider the case without the benefit of conversations in which Harkat did not take part.
Noël had declared Harkat an active and dangerous member of al-Qaeda in December 2010.
The same appeal court decision upheld the constitutionality of the government’s revised security certificate regime.
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