Government admits evidence in Charkaoui file is insufficient

Posted by admin on Aug 20th, 2009

* Judge to decide in September whether to quash certificate or order Ministers to withdraw it,

The Federal government has admitted that there is insufficient evidence in Adil Charkaoui’s file to uphold the security certificate against him. The startling admission was filed with the Federal Court on July 31st. In a directive issued on August 5th, Federal Court Justice Tremblay-Lamer, who is presiding in the case, wrote that, “in light of the admission by the Ministers that the evidence is insufficient to meet their burden of proof,” she will consider whether she should quash the certificate or order the Ministers to revoke it themselves on her return from holidays, in early September. “I am relieved but also shocked by the recent revelations by the government. They have previously destroyed evidence in the file; now the Ministers have admitted in writing that they have insufficient evidence. Was it necessary to wait ten years before admitting the absence of evidence?” stated Mr. Adil Charkaoui.

“Whether the certificate is quashed or revoked, the priority for me remains what it has always been: to clear my name, which this unjust and secretive process has prevented me from doing for the past six and a half years,” added the 36-year old French teacher and father of three, who has lived in Montreal as a Permanent Resident since 1995.

Last month’s revelation was the coup de grâce in a series of developments indicating that the government’s case against Mr. Charkaoui was crumbling. In April, the Ministers told the court that they were withdrawing all information sourced to electronic surveillance from the file. The withdrawal followed an order by the judge to disclose this information to Mr. Charkaoui. It also followed a request by Mr. Charkaoui’s lawyer, Me Doyon, to see the court warrant for surveillance of her client. Then, in mid-July, they withdrew more information, this time from what the spy agency refers to as “human sources”.

“It seems there were significant problems with the very core of the information used to deprive Adil of his freedom for six and a half years. So much so that, the government chose to withdraw the information from the file entirely rather than expose it to public scrutiny. What is the government so anxious to hide? Are there scandals similar to what emerged so recently in the Harkat case, that CSIS seems to have deliberately concealed a lie detector test from the court?” said Mary Foster of the Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui.

“On the heels of the findings of the O’Connor and Iacobucci Commissions, this move by the government to refuse to disclose information deemed public by a Federal Court judge once again raises serious questions regarding the legality of CSIS’s practices and methods and highlights the impunity surrounding the agency’s activities,” added Roch Tassé, Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “It also underscores major problems related to the legitimacy and legal fairness of the security certificate process”.

“I am calling on the government to end this charade and apologize to me and my family for the past six and a half difficult years in which I have experienced loss of liberty, security, my right to work, and suffered repeated attacks on my reputation,” said Mr. Charkaoui.

Mr. Charkaoui was arrested under a security certificate in May 2003; he spent nearly two years in prison and four years under draconian conditions. The security certificate against him was never upheld by any court. In the course of his marathon legal battle, Mr. Charkaoui won two victories at the Supreme Court, forcing the government to modify the security certificate legislation and CSIS to change its information-gathering policies as a result.

Four other men, all Muslim, remain under a security certificate in Ontario, including Mohammad Mahjoub, the sole detainee in the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, better known as “Guatanamo North”.

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