Security Certificate detainee Adil granted bail

Posted by admin on Feb 18th, 2005

Terror suspect held for 21 months granted bail. Moroccan immigrant wins rare release from national-security detention. Globe and Mail

MONTREAL — In an extremely rare development in cases dealing with national security, a judge yesterday ordered the release on bail of Montrealer Adil Charkaoui, 21 months after his arrest on allegations that he is a terror suspect with ties to al-Qaeda. Relatives burst into tears at the news that he could walk out of detention as early as today. He goes back to court next week to challenge the ministerial certificate that declared him a threat to national security.

Mr. Charkaoui, 31, is only the second person held on a security certificate to be released in 14 years. And, in the era after Sept. 11, 2001, he is the first person to be let out of detention among the five Arab men held on suspicion of terrorism under the much-decried and secretive certificate system.

“It’s a very, very important development and we certainly hope it will have implications for other cases,” said John Norris, lawyer for three of the Arab detainees.

The Federal Court ruling is good news because the jurisprudence in such cases “is very thin and evolving almost daily,” he said.

“It certainly provides some hopes for other families that their endless nightmare might end,” said Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada.

As part of his release, Mr. Charkaoui will be required to wear an electronic tracking bracelet, a first in immigration cases.

He has a curfew and cannot use cellphones, computers, BlackBerries or pagers. He can dial the landline phone in his apartment, which presumably would be wiretapped.

Also, federal agents or police officers could visit him at any time.

The restrictions mean that “basically this person is not able to communicate with anyone that we have identified,” Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said.

She said he will be under surveillance but wouldn’t give details.

In his judgment, Mr. Justice Simon Noël ruled that Mr. Charkaoui had been jailed for so long that any contact he might have had with terrorists no longer was a threat.

“If there was an imminent danger, it has been neutralized,” he wrote.

The decision cannot be appealed but Mr. Charkaoui’s release will be up for review every three months.

“We were crying the day he was arrested. Now we are crying, but they are tears of joy,” Mr. Charkaoui’s mother, Latifa, said in an interview. “After 21 months of struggle, we were beginning to lose hope. God is great.”

Unlike the other Muslim suspects, who are refugee claimants, Mr. Charkaoui, a Moroccan immigrant, benefited from a detention review every six months. It was only on his fourth review that he convinced Judge Noël to release him.

Until yesterday, out of 27 cases, only Sri Lankan refugee Manickavasagam Suresh, in 1998, had obtained release pending a decision in his case.

Ms. McLellan said the federal government will respect the ruling even though Mr. Charkaoui is “absolutely” a national-security threat.

The Canadian government seeks guarantees that there will be no torture before deporting non-residents, Paul Kennedy, senior assistant deputy minister for the Department of Public Safety, said.

However, he noted that a recent Supreme Court ruling in Mr. Suresh’s case opened the door to other options. “It indicated — obviously it would have to be an extreme situation — that a removal in the face of such a risk of torture may be in fact justifiable, depending on the kind of threat the individual poses.”

The government alleges that Ahmed Ressam and Abu Zubaydah, two terrorists now in U.S. custody, saw Mr. Charkaoui at an Afghan terrorism training camp. Mr. Charkaoui denies being a terrorist.

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