Wife of Mohamed Harkat calls raid ‘humiliating’

Posted by admin on May 14th, 2009

Thu. May. 14 2009 8:27 AM ET, CTV.ca News Staff

The wife of terror suspect Mohamed Harkat says the raid on her and her husband’s Ottawa home was “a humiliating process” and “a horrible, horrible experience.” “I would say that after my husband’s arrest six-and-half years ago, it was the second worst day of my life,” Sophie Harkat told Canada AM from her home in Ottawa Thursday.  About a dozen border agents, accompanied by RCMP, local and provincial police and three sniffer dogs, descended on Harkat’s home Tuesday morning and removed dozens of boxes filled with the couple’s personal items.

Sophie Harkat says none of the officers offered an explanation about what they were looking for.

“We asked them why they were there but they wouldn’t tell us,” she said. “They just said that under the bail conditions, they have a right to do a search of the home. But the way it was done was just horrible.”

During the six-hour raid, Harkat says officers seized papers and personal items, most of which were hers. They took her computer, her address files, family photos, CDs, diskettes, VHS tapes, letters to friends and other items.

“They took my agenda book for 2009 and my agendas for the last five years. I have kept them in case I write a book about this,” Harkat said.

They also took confidential correspondence between her and her lawyer, including information they had gathered that will help them mount challenge her husband’s deportation order.

Harkat, a refugee from Algeria, was arrested in December 2002. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service contends Harkat is an Islamic extremist and member of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

Harkat denies any involvement with terrorism and has never been formally charged. He faces deportation under a national security certificate

Harkat’s lawyer, Matt Webber, called the raid “excessive, unlawful and abusive,” and said it violated rules about solicitor-client privilege.

Webber also questioned the timing of the raid, noting that Federal Court hearings are slated for early next month on the validity of the security certificate under which Harkat was imprisoned.

Authorities have a right to enter the home, Webber noted, but only to ensure Harkat is complying with the court-imposed bail conditions. Webber said agents “went well beyond” the scope of what they’re entitled to do.

Co-counsel Norm Boxall, says they still haven’t received an explanation as to what precipitated the raid. They plan to voice their objections today during a teleconference with Federal Court Justice Simon Noel.

Harkat said her husband spent 43 months in jail and has been on bail for three years “with the toughest conditions in Canadian history.”

“It would be impossible for us to sneak anything into the house,” she insisted.

“We have surveillance cameras in the house, we have a sensor around the computer door, my husband wears a GPS, we report in a couple times a day, our mail and phone are intercepted, everybody coming to our house is pre-approved in advance by Canadian Border Services, there’s no cellphone allowed in this house.”

She added that the day-long raid was a humiliating experience in which she was forced to ask permission to use the washroom while officers looked through her underwear drawer.

“They violated… I felt like I had been raped of my dignity,” she said.


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