Canada must let "terror suspect" return: court

Thu Jun 4, 2009 2:33pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - In another blow to the Canadian government's security policies, a court on Thursday ordered Ottawa to allow the return of an alleged terror suspect who has spent the last six years in Sudan.

The minority Conservative government says Abousfian Abdelrazik -- a Canadian man currently taking refuge in the Canadian embassy in Sudan -- is on a United Nations no-fly list that names him as an associate of al-Qaeda. It is refusing to issue him a passport.

Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn ruled Canada's actions were a breach of the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says no Canadian can be deprived of the right to life, liberty and security.

"I find that Mr. Abdelrazik is entitled to an appropriate remedy which, in the unique circumstances of his situation, requires that the Canadian government take immediate action so that Mr. Abdelrazik is returned to Canada," he wrote.

Zinn -- who dismissed some of the government's legal arguments as nonsensical -- ordered Ottawa to issue Abdelrazik a passport and said he should be allowed back in 30 days' time or less. He also said he had seen no evidence to support the idea that Abdelrazik supported terrorism.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he would read the judgment before commenting.

In April, another judge at the Federal Court ordered the government to press Washington for the release of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who has been held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since October 2002.

The government, which says Khadr was charged with a very serious crime, is appealing the ruling.

Abdelrazik, who was born in Sudan and then came to Canada as a refugee, gained citizenship in 1995. He has three Canadian-born children.

He was arrested after returning to Sudan in 2003 and released in 2004 before being rearrested in 2005. He was freed in 2006 and has been living in the Canadian embassy since late April 2008.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)