Canada high court upholds case against Algerian 'sleeper agent'

Wed May 14, 2014 1:06pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government was within its rights to order the deportation of Algerian Mohamed Harkat, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Wednesday, upholding a lower court's finding that Harkat was a liar and likely a sleeper agent for terrorist organizations linked to Osama bin Laden.

In making the decision, the high court also unanimously upheld the constitutionality of Canada's revised security certificate system. The system allows the government to designate foreign residents of Canada who are suspected of terrorism as inadmissible and can allow for their detention.

The court did, however, allow for the possibility of a fresh court challenge if Harkat, 45, can demonstrate he would be at risk of torture or death if deported, presumably to Algeria in his case.

Harkat's lawyer, Norman Boxall, said his client was devastated by the ruling and would keep fighting to prevent his deportation and to clear his name.

"Sending a person with essentially a stamp saying we believe they're a terrorist or a member of al Qaeda to countries that don't have the sorts of protections that we have in our country ... can create a risk, or if not a risk, a certainty, of unimaginable horror," Boxall told reporters.

Harkat had come to Canada as a refugee claimant in 1995 and was taken into custody in 2002 under a security certificate. He has since been allowed to go free on bail.

The Supreme Court had struck down the security certificate system in 2007 on the grounds that suspects did not have a chance to see the government's case against them.

The Conservative government then amended the law to provide for British-style special advocates for the suspects, who would be sworn to secrecy and could look at the evidence. In its decision on Wednesday the court said this was constitutional.   Continued...

Mohamed Harkat waits during a break in hearings at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie