Accused terrorist Mohamed Harkat back in court

posted on June 11, 2013 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Ottawa Citizen and The Canadian Press Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: June 11, 2013 OTTAWA - Mohamed Harkat returns to Federal Court Tuesday seeking complete removal or a relaxation of conditions on his release from detention under a Security Certificate. Leading up to Tuesday’s hearing, the federal government said it will allow the Ottawa man accused of terrorist ties to have a mobile phone but it balked at the idea of giving Harkat access to the Internet or removing his electronic tracking bracelet. In documents filed with the Federal Court, the government also said it is open to dropping a requirement that Harkat get prior approval before travelling out of town. The concessions would ease current release conditions for Harkat, but fall short of the full list of freedoms he is seeking during Tuesday’s one-day Federal Court hearing. It has been more than a decade since Harkat, a refugee from Algeria, was arrested under a national security certificate on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. He has essentially been living under house arrest with stringent conditions for seven years. Harkat, 44, lives at home in Ottawa with wife Sophie, but wears an electronic GPS bracelet on his ankle, must check in with authorities regularly and cannot leave the capital area without permission. He is denied access to a mobile phone or a computer with Internet connectivity. “I feel dehumanized and degraded on a daily basis,” Harkat says in an affidavit in support of his request for less onerous conditions. “The GPS ankle bracelet I am required to wear is a constant reminder of this.” Harkat denies any involvement in terrorist activities. He says his decade-long ordeal has taken a toll, and that he’s been treated by a psychiatrist for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia for the last three years. “I feel that much of my psychological difficulties are a result of the extremely restrictive conditions under which I live,” he says in the affidavit. Harkat’s psychiatrist, Dr. Colin Cameron, says his patient takes four medications — two of which have had to be increased a number of times over the last three years — to manage his “significant depressive, post-traumatic stress and anxiety symptoms.” In a brief to the court, Harkat’s lawyers call the current release conditions “harsh and excessive.” Harkat argues his current lack of access to the Internet prevents him from emailing family members, the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee, legal counsel or even the Canada Border Services Agency, which monitors his daily movements and approves or denies travel requests. In addition, he says, he “feels uneasy” about not having a mobile phone in the event of an emergency when away from home — noting his wife suffers from diabetes and his nephew has allergies that require him to carry an epi-pen. In its court submission, the government says the conditions imposed on Harkat — including GPS monitoring and the prohibition on Internet access — are proportional to the danger. “The threat posed by Mr. Harkat relates directly to his ability to meet and communicate with persons associated with terrorism,” says the brief. “The conditions were imposed in order for the Court to be reassured that Mr. Harkat would not maintain or undertake such contacts.” Harkat argues he has done everything expected of him to date.

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