Charkaoui asks for an official apology

Posted by admin on Sep 29th, 2009

Video here.

Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

OTTAWA — Adil Charkaoui, fresh from securing his freedom from federal surveillance, came to Parliament Hill on Tuesday shopping for an apology from the government for his “years of suffering” after being branded a terror suspect. He also hinted that he could seek financial compensation. The Montreal schoolteacher’s appeal for Ottawa to drop its fight against him and to make amends came on the eve of a closed-door court hearing in which a judge is expected to quash a federal “security certificate,” issued in 2003 on accusations that Charkaoui had ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network. The rarely used certificates permit indefinite “administrative detention” of non-Canadians, without being charged or knowing the full case against them, while judges decide in closed-door hearings whether the suspects should be deported.

“I’m asking for an apology,” Charkaoui, surrounded by his supporters, told a news conference. “I don’t want to live with the label of presumed ex-terrorist.”

He asserted that the federal government elected to apply a security certificate instead of laying criminal charges because the case against him never would have stood a chance in a criminal court.

“This case stood on nothing and has collapsed,” said Charkaoui, a Moroccan-born permanent resident of Canada.

He also said he deserves a payout from Ottawa for “a very long list of abuses that you cannot imagine.”

Among other things, he said, he missed the birth of his second child and did not lay eyes on the infant until the child was 21 months old. He said he also lost his teaching licence, was denied travel, ostracized from his friends and harassed by security officials.

“I didn’t say today that I will seek compensation, I said if I do it, I really deserve it,” he said.

Charkaoui was held for two years in detention before his 2005 release on strict bail conditions, including a requirement that he wear a GPS tracking bracelet on his ankle.

He cut off the GPS last week after Federal Court Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer gave him his unconditional freedom. The move came after federal lawyers withdrew much of the evidence against Charkaoui in court — collected largely through wiretaps and foreign intelligence sources — saying it must be kept secret to protect national security.

In a closed-door hearing Wednesday in Montreal, the judge is expected to throw out the security certificate.

New Democrat Party MP Bill Siksay, meanwhile, introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday to repeal security certificates, which are issued on the approval of two cabinet ministers.

“There is no excuse to keep this legislation on the books in Canada,” said Siksay. “Security certificates are an odious and inappropriate end run around fairness, due process and respect for the justice system and human rights.

“Those subject to them should be charged if there is reason to believe they have committed a criminal offence.”

Charkaoui is one of five Muslim men whom Ottawa has targeted with security certificates in the last nine years.

The regime, a key component of the government’s counter-terrorism efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has been losing steam in recent months amid revelations of Canadian Security Intelligence Service gaffes, court orders for the government to disclose more information, and federal admissions that it poses too much of a threat to state secrets to continue the pursuit.

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