Security Certificate detainee Mahmoud Jaballah released from jail

Posted by admin on Apr 15th, 2007

Canadian Press, 15 April 2007  Lauren La Rose

TORONTO – After spending nearly six years in jail without charge, a suspected Egyptian terrorist spent his first full day back with his family on Saturday. Mahmoud Jaballah now has to make the transition from a life behind bars to one where he’s confined to his Toronto home. Jaballah was released Friday from the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre in eastern Ontario after a Federal Court judge said last month that the 44-year-old should be released under strict conditions and placed under house arrest.

Jaballah will be hooked up to an electronic monitoring device, can’t leave his house without approval of government officials and all visitors to his home must be pre-approved, Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada said Saturday.

Jaballah’s mail will be opened and his phone will be tapped, and he is not allowed to use a cellphone or the Internet, he added.

“This is all for someone who has never been charged with, much less convicted of, a criminal offence in Canada and he is also still subject to a process that the Supreme Court of Canada found to be unconstitutional.”

Jaballah was arrested in August 2001 on an unprecedented second national security certificate, a tool that allows non-citizens who are deemed a threat to national security to be held indefinitely without charge.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in February that federal security certificates are unconstitutional, and gave Parliament a year to bring the law into line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Jaballah’s release came one day after security certificate detainee and terrorism suspect Mohamed Mahjoub was freed.

In a bail decision by Justice Carolyn Layden-Stevenson that followed Jaballah’s release, she wrote that security certificate cases rely on “reasonable suspicion,” not criminal standards of proof.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Jaballah was a senior member of (Egyptian Al-Jihad) who acted as a communicator among terrorist cells of the AJ and al-Qaida” during the time of the deadly 1998 al-Qaida bombings in Africa, the judge said.

But Behrens, an activist for security certificate detainees, said it’s still unknown what’s at the heart of the government’s case against Jaballah because it’s based on evidence that has never been disclosed to him or his lawyers.

Jaballah still faces a fairly lengthy battle with respect to the issue of whether he could be tortured if he’s deported and the open question about whether or not he will face another certificate if Ottawa rewrites the security certificate legislation, Behrens said.

Despite the potential hurdles ahead, Jaballah, a father of six children ranging from eight to 20 years old, told Behrens following his release he felt like “he was in the middle of a wonderful dream.”

“He was afraid that he would wake up and still be in jail, but nonetheless, the dream is still alive and he is home with his family, and it was a very joyous reunion.”

For most of his detention, family members were able to visit Jaballah for between 20 to 40 minutes per week, Behrens said.

“They never had the kind of privacy that most people in the federal prison system are granted in terms of trailer visits and the ability to cook together, to eat together, to play together – they were constantly watched,” Behrens said. “So the fact that Mr. Jaballah is home now, it’s the first time that they’ve had some private time together in six years.”

“We’re very grateful that he’s home and that’s a big step and will make a huge difference for him and his family, but we still do not know when those conditions will be relaxed or taken off.”

Two other foreign nationals who were being held under similar circumstances have already been released, or ordered released, all of them on strict conditions.

Algerian Mohamed Harkat is currently under house arrest in Ottawa, while Moroccan Adil Charkaoui is on bail in Montreal, leaving only Syrian national Hassan Almrei without immediate bail prospects.

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