Security Certificate arrestee denied permission to attend birthday

Posted by admin on Sep 8th, 2008

Jennifer Campbell. The Ottawa Citizen. Sunday, September 07, 2008

The birthday boy thanked the assembled crowd for coming out to a party he couldn’t attend. Ottawa terror suspect Mohammed Harkat, who was released under strict conditions after having spent four years in jail under a security certificate, wasn’t allowed to attend his own birthday party because the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which is responsible for monitoring Mr. Harkat’s movements, said it would be a political gathering and that contravenes the conditions of his release.

That came as a surprise to his wife, Sophie, who said they’ve received permission to attend potlucks together in the past. Under Mr. Harkat’s conditions, they must make their outing requests 48 hours in advance.

“It’s a sad day for injustice in this country when the birthday boy can’t attend his own party,” Ms. Harkat said.

So while friends and supporters gathered at a church on Echo Drive for what did end up being a political party — but only after he was denied permission to attend — Mr. Harkat spent the evening with his
mother-in-law and his nine-year-old niece. He did, however, send a recorded message in his place.

“It’s a shame and a disappointment that I’m not able to attend,” the former pizza delivery man and gas-station attendant said in the recording. “The struggle continues for my family and I.

“I want a fair trial. I don’t want any more secrets. I want the truth to come out. I want justice because I deserve to clear my name.”

The group of more than 50 friends and social-justice advocates spoke about a “secret trial” starting this week where all information remains sealed.

Mr. Harkat has special advocates assigned to make his case, but they haven’t been allowed to speak to him since they met formally in July, nor are they allowed to speak to his lawyer, Norman Boxall. Mr. Boxall, who joined Matt Weber as counsel two months ago when Mr. Harkat’s other lawyer became a special advocate, told the guests they knew as much as he does.

“And that probably speaks pretty loudly” for the process, he said, adding that the fact he isn’t allowed to hear any evidence in the upcoming hearing makes his job akin to going to battle with “your hands tied behind your back.”

Alois Weidemann also spoke at the event. He is in the curious position of being the Harkats’ landlord. He let them move in when he was involved with Mrs. Harkat’s mother, but the relationship has since ended. Although he’d like the Harkats to move out and they’d like to go, they’re all stuck living together because CBSA hasn’t given the Harkats permission to move.

Mr. Weidemann, whose home is equipped with security cameras and whose telephone is tapped, said he’s “being held for ransom” for being a nice guy.

“It’s like a chess game and now I’m check-mate,” said the retired Citizen employee. His siblings and his friends no longer visit. “Where are my rights of quiet enjoyment of my property?”

When Mrs. Harkat spoke yesterday, she called for an end to what she called the injustice of their situation.

“One day justice will prevail and when that happens, we’ll have one heck of a party.”

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