Mohamed Harkat

Amnesty International warns Ottawa man faces serious mistreatment if deported

posted on December 14, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill (CP) Source: CTV News URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2015 OTTAWA -- Amnesty International says Mohamed Harkat faces serious mistreatment if he is returned to his native Algeria and it joined the Ottawa man Thursday in urging the Trudeau government to halt his deportation. Harkat, a former pizza delivery man, was taken into custody 13 years ago on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent -- an accusation he denies. The federal government has been trying to deport the Algerian refugee on a national security certificate -- a seldom-used tool in immigration law for removing non-citizens suspected of extremism or espionage. Harkat, 47, fears he will be tortured if forced to leave Canada. "I love this country and I came here for a better life," he said during a news conference. "I just want my life back." Amnesty International's research suggests a return to Algeria could put Harkat at serious risk of being placed in "incommunicado detention," meaning he would be denied access to family, legal counsel or an independent doctor, contrary to international human rights law, said Hilary Homes of the organization's Canadian branch. People suspected of terrorism-related offences are often detained by the Algerian security forces and denied contact with the outside world, sometimes for prolonged periods, she said. In addition, Algerian courts continue to accept confessions extracted under torture or duress, resulting in unfair trials, Homes said. "Effective safeguards against torture or ill-treatment in Algerian law and practice are lacking and security forces continue to enjoy impunity for their acts of torture and ill-treatment of those they detain," she told the news conference. "It's time for Canada to do the right thing and stop trying to deport Mohamed Harkat." Harkat's lawyers have long argued the security certificate process is unfair because the person facing deportation doesn't see the full case against them. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the certificate against Harkat last year and the government has since taken initial steps toward removing him. Amnesty is concerned the federal government might rely on Algerian assurances that Harkat would not be mistreated in ultimately deciding to return him, Homes said. "Such assurances from governments with a poor human rights record are inherently unreliable and do not provide an effective safeguard against torture or ill-treatment." © 2015 Bell Media All rights reserved.

Harkat calls on Liberal government to cancel his deportation

posted on December 11, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2015 [PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat (left), who was arrested and detained under a secret trial Security Certificate, stands with lawyer Leo Russomano during a press conference to mark the 13th anniversary of his detention and International Human Right's Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. ] Ottawa terror suspect Mohamed Harkat has called on the Liberal government to halt his deportation and end his labyrinthine journey through the federal security certificate process. The Algerian-born Harkat, 47, issued a public plea Thursday for clemency on the 13th anniversary of his arrest at a Vanier townhouse complex. He subsequently spent three years in jail and another seven years under strict house arrest during a legal odyssey that twice saw his case go the Supreme Court. This August, more than a year after the high court affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaida network, the government launched deportation proceedings against him. “I would like to start a new page and be given a chance to move on with my life,” Harkat said in an interview Thursday. “I have big hope in this government.” Harkat said he would be imprisoned and tortured if returned to Algeria, a country from which he fled as a university student in March 1990 because of his opposition to the military government. After five years in Pakistan — security agents allege that he made terrorist contacts during that time — Harkat flew to Canada and claimed refugee status. He came to the attention of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service almost immediately, but was not arrested until December 2002 during the heated aftermath of 9/11. “I’ve spent my adult life in this country,” Harkat said Thursday, “and I love this county. I love the people.” Amnesty International has said returning Harkat to Algeria would likely expose him to “incommunicado detention,” a situation often faced by terror suspects in which they’re put at increased risk of torture through extended periods of isolation. Harkat’s wife, Sophie, said Canada has a legal and moral obligation not to deport someone to a country where they could face torture. “During the election,” she said, “the Liberals liked to describe themselves as the party of the Charter so we’ll be putting a lot of pressure on them to hold them to that.” What’s more, she said, it makes no sense to deport her husband when he has been living in the community for years without incident and has proven that he poses no threat. “Let’s just save everyone a lot of time, a lot of heartache and money, and end it right now,” she argued. “We’re not asking for an apology or anything else: We’re just asking them to drop the whole procedure. We just want to lead a normal life. That’s it.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre, supported Harkat in June 2006 when he first applied for bail. Alexandre Trudeau filed an affidavit and offered a cash bond in support of Harkat’s application; he also wrote, directed and produced a documentary, Secure Freedom, that highlighted the injustices of the original security certificate process. Harkat lawyer Leo Russomanno said Thursday that he has received no indication from government officials whether they’re going to proceed with the deportation, which was initiated during the election campaign. Deportation promises to raise difficult legal issues. A government official will first have to determine whether Harkat remains a serious threat to national security. If the minister’s delegate concludes such a risk exists, the official must then assess what kind of torture risk Harkat would face if returned to Algeria, and whether the government can rely on diplomatic assurances that he won’t be mistreated. Those two risk assessments would then be weighed against one another to arrive at a deportation decision. The Supreme Court has ruled that terror suspects can only be deported in “exceptional circumstances” to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture. © 2015 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.

Harkat craint la torture s'il est renvoyé en Algérie, dit Amnistie

posted on December 11, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Jim Bronskill Source: La Presse URL: [link] Date: 10 décembre 2015 Amnistie internationale a affirmé, jeudi, que Mohamed Harkat risquait d'être gravement maltraité s'il était renvoyé dans son Algérie natale et a exhorté le gouvernement du premier ministre Justin Trudeau à interrompre le processus de déportation. M. Harkat, un ancien livreur de pizza résidant à Ottawa, a été arrêté il y a 13 ans parce que les autorités le soupçonnaient d'être un agent dormant d'Al-Qaïda, une accusation qu'il dément. Le fédéral a depuis tenté d'expulser le réfugié algérien en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité, une procédure de la loi sur l'immigration rarement utilisée permettant d'expulser du Canada de présumés terroristes ou espions ne possédant pas la citoyenneté canadienne. L'homme âgé de 47 ans craint d'être torturé s'il est forcé de quitter le Canada. «J'adore ce pays et je suis venu ici pour avoir une meilleure existence, a-t-il déclaré durant une conférence de presse, jeudi. Je veux retrouver ma vie.» Selon Hilary Homes d'Amnistie internationale Canada, M. Harkat pourrait être jeté en prison à son retour en Algérie sans possibilité de communiquer avec ses proches, un avocat ou un médecin indépendant, ce qui est contraire au droit international en matière des droits de la personne. Mme Homes a soutenu que les individus soupçonnés d'avoir des liens avec des organisations terroristes étaient souvent détenus par les forces de sécurité algériennes et coupés du monde extérieur, parfois pendant de longues périodes. En outre, les tribunaux algériens acceptent encore les confessions obtenues sous la torture ou par la force, ce qui mène à la tenue de procès qui ne sont pas équitables, a-t-elle ajouté. «Dans la loi comme dans la pratique, l'Algérie ne dispose pas de mécanismes efficaces pour protéger les personnes détenues de la torture ou des mauvais traitements et les forces de sécurité continuent à torturer ou à maltraiter les prisonniers en toute impunité», a fait valoir Hilary Homes durant la conférence de presse. «Il est temps pour le Canada de prendre la bonne décision et de cesser d'essayer de déporter Mohamed Harkat.» Les avocats de M. Harkat martèlent depuis longtemps que la procédure relative aux certificats de sécurité est injuste parce que la personne visée n'a jamais accès à l'ensemble de la preuve déposée contre elle. La Cour suprême du Canada a maintenu le certificat contre Mohamed Harkat l'an dernier et le gouvernement a amorcé les démarches pour le déporter. Amnistie craint que le fédéral ne se base sur les promesses du gouvernement algérien de garantir la sécurité de M. Harkat pour décider de le renvoyer ou non. «Les promesses de gouvernements ne respectant pas les droits de la personne ne sont pas fiables et ne garantissent pas que l'individu concerné ne sera pas torturé ou maltraité», a conclu Mme Homes. © La Presse, ltée. Tous droits réservés.

ICLMG: Mohamed Harkat’s deportation should be stopped immediately

posted on December 11, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Press Release Source: The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2015 The ICLMG read the following statement today at a press conference on Parliament Hill alongside Mohamed Harkat and his lawyer, the Justice for Mohamed Harkat collective, and two of our member organizations, Amnesty International and the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Last August 2015, the federal government launched deportation proceedings against Mohamed Harkat, exactly 20 years after he first arrived to Canada and claimed the refugee status. Mohamed Harkat was arrested on December 10, 2002 – exactly 13 years ago – under a security certificate, and since he has been in a legal limbo. He stayed three years in jail, some of them in Guantanamo North, the 3.2 million dollar prison built specially for Muslim detainees. After he was released, he was subjected to the strictest conditions of house arrest. His wife, Sophie Lamarche, became his “unofficial” jailer at home, thus losing what remained of their privacy. For many years, he had to wear an electronic tracking bracelet to monitor all his movements. In May 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government security certificate regime and found that the security certificate against Mohamed Harkat was reasonable. However, the Supreme Court reminded the judges operating under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that they should be “interventionist”, and clearly stated that the government couldn’t proceed with a security certificate case unless the suspect is reasonably informed of the case against them to ensure their defence. Unfortunately, today, we haven’t seen any steps taken by the government towards allowing suspects to access the secret evidence, if any, against them. On the contrary, Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act passed in June 2015, reinforced the use of secrecy even in the cases involving Canadian citizens and has lowered the threshold and expanded the grounds for preventative arrest. This deportation decision would be the first step towards the removal of Mohamed Harkat from his peaceful life in Canada to torture and very likely disappearance and execution. Before being sent to torture, an assessment of the potential danger to Canadians posed by Harkat needs to be done. But realistically, what is the threat posed today by Mohamed Harkat? The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that terror suspects can only be deported in “exceptional circumstances” to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture, but it has not defined the full meaning of that concept. According to many human right organizations, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Algeria is still considered to be a country where grave violations of human rights are common. Can Canada really accept in good conscience the diplomatic assurances that would be given to deport Mohamed Harkat to Algeria? We do not believe it can. Today, we ask the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, to immediately stop the deportation procedures against Mohamed Harkat. And we add: does this government want to be remembered for sending a refugee back to torture or execution? ICLMG believes that Mohamed Harkat should be allowed to stay in Canada with his wife. After more than a decade of legal fights, secrecy, physical and emotional distress, it is time to give Mohamed his rights and his life back. Thank you. Copyright © 2015 International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Government launches deportation proceedings against Harkat

posted on September 22, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: September 18, 2015 The federal government has launched deportation proceedings against Algerian-born terror suspect Mohamed Harkat 20 years after he first arrived in Ottawa as a refugee claimant. The case had been dormant for more than a year — ever since the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government’s security certificate regime and affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. But for reasons that remain unexplained, the government took no action against Harkat for 15 months after its court victory. A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said Friday she would “not speak to specific cases.” Late last month, almost four weeks into the federal election campaign, Harkat received an official letter from the CBSA informing him that the first step in his deportation process had begun. “He was totally devastated,” Harkat’s wife, Sophie, said in an interview. “That big grey cloud he’s had over his head for 13 years, it just got a lot darker.” Harkat said her husband had hoped the government wouldn’t pursue his deportation. “How big a threat can he be if they wait 15 months to issue this letter?” Two years ago, an electronic tracking bracelet was removed from Harkat’s leg and his release conditions relaxed to allow him to travel outside of Ottawa, use a mobile phone and an Internet-connected computer. Monia Mazigh, national co-ordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, said the move to deport Harkat comes at an odd time: with an election in full swing and with no certainty about what party will form the next government. “We see this as a very, very dangerous move,” said Mazigh, who argued that Canada should not deport someone if there is even the slightest possibility that they will be mistreated or tortured. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said returning Harkat to Algeria would put him at serious risk of being placed under “incommunicado detention,” a situation in which prisoners are denied access to family, lawyers and physicians. Amnesty, he said, has documented numerous cases of terror suspects being held for prolonged periods under such conditions, putting them at increased risk of torture. Harkat, 47, was first arrested on the strength of a security certificate in December 2002. He spent more than three years in jail and another seven years under strict house arrest during a legal odyssey that twice saw his case go the Supreme Court. The deportation process promises to raise more difficult legal issues. The first step involves an assessment of the danger that Harkat poses to Canadians. A government official appointed by Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will have to determine whether Harkat remains a serious threat to national security given his public profile, the passage of time and other factors. If the minister’s delegate concludes such a risk exists, the official must then assess what kind of torture risk Harkat would face if returned to Algeria, and whether the government can rely on diplomatic assurances that he won’t be mistreated. Those two risk assessments would then be weighed against one another to arrive at a deportation decision. The Supreme Court has already ruled that terror suspects can only be deported in “exceptional circumstances” to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture, but it has not defined the full meaning of that concept. Harkat arrived in Ottawa as a refugee in September 1995 after living in Pakistan for five years. Before his arrest, Harkat worked as a pizza delivery man and gas station attendant while also developing an expensive casino gambling habit. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) built a case against him based on 13 wiretapped phone conversations recorded between 1996 and 1998, and at least two unnamed informants, one of whom failed a CSIS lie-detector test. In 2009, CSIS issued a threat assessment report that suggested Harkat had played a mostly logistical role for jihadists and did not engage in acts of violence. It concluded that his threat to Canadians had diminished over time but not disappeared. © 2015 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.

Suspect tortured by CIA figured in Canadian security cases

posted on January 09, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Tu Thanh Ha Source: The Globe and Mail URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2014 The scathing report on the CIA’s brutal interrogation techniques from the U.S. Senate repeatedly mentions a terrorism suspect called Abu Zubaydah, describing how the torture inflicted on him yielded no valuable information. Abu Zubaydah is the source the Canadian government cited a decade ago in court documents about two suspects arrested in Canada, Adil Charkaoui and Mohamed Harkat. Canadian judges eventually ruled that the evidence Abu Zubaydah gave to his U.S. interrogators was not reliable, even though federal lawyers at one point insisted there was no coercion. The government argued that the information implicating Mr. Charkaoui was “obtained freely and without constraint,” according to a Federal Court ruling in July, 2004. In the case against Mr. Harkat, the government told the judge there was “no proof, on a balance of probabilities, that evidence obtained from Abu [Zubaydah] was obtained as a result of torture,” a 2005 ruling said.

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[video] The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Secret Trials, Secret Evidence

posted on December 05, 2014 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: The Agenda - TVO website URL: [link] Date: November 27, 2014 Click on the image below to watch the 32 minute television show online.

About the video: The Canadian government can use a legal tool called a 'security certificate' to detain and deport non-citizens suspected of terrorist activities using secret evidence the accused and their lawyers cannot see. Over the last decade, five Muslim men - dubbed the Secret Trial Five - have been detained in Canadian prisons without charges under security certificates. The Agenda convenes a panel to discuss the security and civil liberty issues surrounding this legal tool.

Copyright © 2014 The Ontario Educational Communications Authority (TVO)

ByTowne to screen film of five terror suspects jailed without trial

posted on November 11, 2014 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Lucy Scholey Source: MetroNews URL: [link] Date: November 9, 2014 Five men who were jailed without trial and never shown the evidence against them — it sounds like something from Soviet-era Russia, but it happened here and it’s still happening. Filmmaker Amar Wala said he was shocked, as were many Canadians, to hear that five men men were detained in this country without due process. In his first feature-length film, The Secret Trial 5, being screened in Ottawa next weekend, Wala tells the stories of Adil Charkaoui, Hassan Almrei, Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohamed Harkat and Mohammad Zeki Mahjoub. Each man each spent anywhere from three to seven years in jail, plus time in strict house arrest under the country’s controversial security certificates. The law allows the government to detain and deport non-citizens if they are considered a threat to national security. Under that law, these five men were never charged and never saw the evidence against them, said Wala. “A person should never be held in prison without being charged with a crime,” he said. “That’s something we believe in, very deeply, in Canada. We believe in the right to a fair trial and we’ve abandoned that principle here. So I really hope that the film makes them understand just how these things effect people, not just the men but their wives, their children, their communities, us as a country.” Sophie Harkat, wife of former pizza deliveryman Mohamed Harkat, said they are starting to feel a sense of freedom now that her husband’s strict house arrest conditions have been relaxed. The Algerian immigrant was issued a security certificate in 2002 and spent 43 months in prison, both at the Ottawa-Carleton District Detention Centre and the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (dubbed “Guantanamo North”). After his release, he spent three and a half years under house arrest in Ottawa. In a Supreme Court ruling, security certificates were deemed unconstitutional in 2007, but the law was amended the following year. Harkat has challenged the new law, but it was upheld in the spring. The government is now able to deport him. Sophie Harkat said she hopes The Secret Trial 5 will shed light on his story and security certificates, in general. “His family believes in him, we all believe in his innocence, but that’s not the important thing here,” she said. “Due process is the important thing. Due process for him, for the others and for anybody that will come after us.” Wala raised about $50,000 through Kickstarter to fund the making of The Secret Trial 5. Now he and his fellow producers have started another campaign to fund a cross-country tour of the film. The Secret Trial 5 will be at the ByTowne Cinema Nov. 16-18. Copyright 2001-2014, Free Daily News Group Inc.

Independent Jewish Voices Appalled by Court Rulings on Hassan Diab and Mohamed Harkat

posted on May 20, 2014 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Press Release Source: Independent Jewish Voices URL: [link] Date: May 15, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 15, 2014 Independent Jewish Voices Appalled by Court Rulings on Hassan Diab and Mohamed Harkat

OTTAWA – With the decision to extradite Hassan Diab to France affirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal, human rights supporters across the country are appalled by the decision, and fearful of the precedent this sets for Canadian citizens. “Independent Jewish Voices is stunned by the Kafkaesque trial against Dr. Diab, who has been wrongly accused of a heinous crime committed decades ago,” says IJV spokesperson Sid Shniad. “Despite the fact that Dr. Diab’s fingerprints, palm prints, handwriting and physical description do not match those of the suspect, he still faces extradition to a foreign country. What kind of democracy are we living in?” Due to Canada’s extradition laws, it makes no difference that according to an Ontario judge, the evidence levelled against Dr. Diab is “confusing,” “weak,” and “suspect.” The request — however unreasonable — of a foreign country, takes priority over the rights of a Canadian citizen. Dr Diab’s extradition is opposed by countless civil society organizations that support human rights. There is, however, one organization in particular that has been publicly supportive of Dr. Diab’s extradition: The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). “Independent Jewish Voices is deeply disturbed that the pro-Israel lobby group CIJA — which falsely claims to represent Canada’s diverse Jewish communities — has been supportive of Dr. Diab’s extradition,” says Shniad. “It is an affront to the Jewish tradition of support for universal human rights, including due process under the law, to support the extradition of a man accused of a crime despite the absence of any valid evidence against him.” This decision directly follows the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Security Certificate process in the case of Mohamed Harkat. “Canada’s treatment of Dr. Diab and Mr. Harkat are reflective of the same systemic flaws,” says Shniad. “Our government and judicial system are in the business of violating international law, demonizing Arabs and Muslims, and branding them terrorists while denying them the right to a fair trial. All those who believe in justice should be outraged. We should demand that Parliament intervene immediately to abolish Security Certificates and end unjust practices like the extradition proceedings against Dr. Diab.” For more information contact: Sid Shniad, Steering Committee member of Independent Jewish Voices – Canada 604-314-5589, ijv-vancouver AT

LETTER: Where's the Justice?

posted on May 18, 2014 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Alma Norman Source: The Ottawa Citizen, letter to the editor URL: [link] Date: May 17, 2014 Re: Harkat promises fight 'to the end,' May 16.

Where has my Canada gone now that Mohamed and his wife, Sophie, have lost their struggle for justice? As a result of secret trials where he saw neither the evidence nor his accuser, Harkat is to be deported to Algeria, where he may face possible torture and death. Do we really feel safer because their battle for justice has been lost? Is democracy more secure in Canada because secret trials have been Ok'd? Or has democracy been sacrificed to the so-called "war" on terrorism? Oh Canada, my shameful chosen land. Alma Norman

Ottawa © Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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