Charkaoui gets some freedom

Posted by admin on Feb 21st, 2009

By SUE MONTGOMERY, The Gazette. February 21, 2009
For the first time in four years, Adil Charkaoui, 35, was able to go outside yesterday without his mom and dad. In a judgment that Charkaoui has been awaiting for close to a year, Federal Court Judge Danièle Tremblay-Lamer yesterday lifted the restrictive conditions under which the Moroccan-born Montrealer, who Ottawa believes is a terrorist, has had to live since being released on Feb. 18, 2005, from nearly two years’ detention.

He’s now able to drive his car and go to the gym alone. He can surf the Internet, use mobile or landline telephones. He can stay out past 10 p.m. He can plan trips off the island of Montreal.

He left a message for a reporter and proudly said, “I’m calling from a cellphone!” “Just to be outside alone, with no one with me and no one, not my lawyers, or my parents, was a very strange feeling,” an elated Charkaoui said in an interview. “Maybe I’ll even take my children skiing over the spring break.” The curfew, weekly signing in with authorities and constant supervision played havoc with Charkaoui’s life, as well as that of his elderly mother and father, who had to accompany their son to his children’s school, university classes, shopping and the gym – inconveniences the judge said weren’t necessary.

“The aim of many restrictions is to limit his movements and would be justified, in my opinion, if one feared he would flee, not show up for deportation or commit a crime or pose a danger to others,” the judge wrote. “The evidence I’ve heard to this point doesn’t show that that is the case.” Yesterday, his mother, Latifa, said a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders and her husband, Mohammed, will be able to resume work as a machinist, which he had to give up to supervise his son.

“We’ll start our lives all over again at zero,” she said.

Tremblay-Lamer said the conditions were disproportionate with the nature of the danger, which the judge said had been neutralized with time.

In addition, the judge said, Charkaoui hasn’t been able to do anything without the media noticing.

“If he had the profile of a sleeper agent nine years ago, it’s clear he couldn’t have it today, given the media coverage surrounding his case,” she wrote.

The fact Charkaoui has strong support from friends and family, whom he doesn’t want to let down, also neutralizes the danger to national security and others, Tremblay-Lamer wrote. Besides, she wrote, would Charkaoui, who has always respected his conditions, now do something to compromise his case? “I don’t think so,” she said.

Charkaoui, who had been under surveillance since 2000, was arrested in May 2003 under a security certificate – a seldom-used tool under immigration law allowing authorities to detain non-citizens indefinitely without charge and without seeing the evidence against them. At the time of his arrest, Ottawa believed, and still maintains, that Charkaoui was a sleeper agent for Al-Qa’ida. He has always steadfastly denied it.

While the easing of restrictions marks another victory for Charkaoui – he already has two Supreme Court of Canada rulings in his favour – his lawyer, Dominique Larochelle, said conditions should be lifted completely, given that the country’s highest court ruled in 2007 that the security certificate process was unconstitutional.

Hearings still must be held during which a judge must only decide whether the security certificate bearing Charkaoui’s name is “reasonable.” If it is, he could face deportation.

“I hope to continue clearing my reputation,” said Charkaoui, a permanent resident who came to Canada in 1993.


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