Lawyer vows all-out fight against terror suspect’s deportation order

Posted by admin on Jan 21st, 2011

By Mohammed Adam, Postmedia News, Jan. 21, 2011

OTTAWA — Saying his client is innocent, Ottawa lawyer Matt Webber vowed Friday to fight a deportation order against Mohamed Harkat all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, if necessary.

Harkat, 42, the former pizza deliveryman branded a terrorist by a Federal Court judge, was served with a formal notice of deportation Friday that could see him returned to his native Algeria, and potential torture. But Webber said his client is not going anywhere, adding that he has been given permission to file an appeal against the judgment of Justice Simon Noel, and will do so in “short order.”

The presiding judge has to “certify” the issues being appealed, and Noel agreed to some of the issues, including the constitutionality of the security certificate system under which Harkat was declared a danger to Canada. The breadth of the appeal is to be revealed when it is filed in a “couple of weeks.”

Webber said he hasn’t been given any assurances by the federal government that Harkat won’t be removed from Canada.

“I have not received any assurances from the Canadian Border Services Agency, but in a country that embraces due process and has a charter of rights, you don’t remove people from the country to potential danger when they have an ongoing appeal,” he said.

“We have a long road of litigation ahead of us. We are talking years. If we do not prevail in the Federal Court of Appeal, we will make every effort to get this matter put before the supreme court.”

Harkat, who has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, said he is basically a wreck, but is looking forward to the appeal to clear his name.

“I never thought that I would be accused of an allegation of terrorism and find myself facing deportation to torture. I never in my mind thought a day like this will happen,” he said.

“I never do it. I was never involved in terrorism. I’m scared, I’m worried, I can’t sleep.”

His wife and advocate Sophie said the deportation order is just the latest in a long list of difficulties the family has faced since Harkat’s arrest in 2002.

“We’ve been through hell for eight years and we might go through hell for another eight years, but I know that at the end it all, justice will prevail,” she said.

Harkat, who came to Canada in 1995, was arrested on suspicion of being a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. Last month, Noel upheld Harkat’s security certificate — an immigration instrument that allows the government to confine people who ordinarily would be deported but can’t be because of fears they’d face torture in their home countries. The judge dismissed a defence application to declare the security-certificate process unconstitutional, and another that sought a stay of proceedings due to mishandled evidence.

Webber said the constitutional issue will be a key issue of the appeal.

“The way the legislation was applied in this case put us in a position where in our considered opinion, we were not given a fair hearing,” he said.

“There’s still too much we don’t know. Too many pivotal findings were made without any evidence being shared with us.”

Webber expressed confidence that the courts, in the end, will recognize Harkat’s innocence.

“I am confident that we can put up a hell of a fight, and I am confident that justice will prevail,” he said.

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