This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Departing Canada Under Duress

"He was totally devastated. That big grey cloud he's had over his head for 13 years, it just got a lot darker."
"How big a threat can he be if they wait 15 months to issue this letter."
Sophie Harkat, wife of Mohamed Harkat, Ottawa
The federal government has made an effort for years to deport Algeria-born Mohamed Harkat from Canada. After his 2002 arrest as a suspected al-Qaeda sleeper agent who infiltrated Canada on behalf of the terrorist group, the man used all legal means at his disposal to challenge the intention of the federal government to deport him. He had his supporters who backed his claims of innocence, and his lawyers did their utmost to try to prove his innocence.

Mohamed Harkat came to Canada in 1995 and his request for refugee status was granted in 1997. He married a Canadian citizen, Sophie Lamarche, who has continually contended her husband's innocence of the charges brought against him. Despite the four years he spent in custody, and seven additional years under house arrest with strict conditions, Mohamed Harkat fought extradition, claiming if he returned to Algeria he would be tortured.

In May of 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the legal acceptability of the national security certificate against him as a terror suspect, rejecting his constitutional challenge, stating that the legal process used in his detention was fair and reasonable. The court validated the decision of a Federal Court judge who found that Mr. Harkat had entered Canada for the express purpose of acting as an al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who wrote the decision, stated that Mr. Harkat "potentially faces deportation to a country where he may be at risk for torture or death, although the constitutionality of his deportation in such circumstances is not before us in the present appeal." But the facts are that Mr. Harkat was held by Canadian Intelligence to have associated with suspected terror agents on arrival in Canada. 

 He was as well accused of having operated a 'safe house' in Pakistan -- where he lived for five years before coming to Canada -- to accommodate agents entering and exiting Afghanistan.

It was only a matter of time before government took the final steps to remove him from Canada. His bail conditions had been relaxed with the removal of an electronic tracking bracelet. He was given permission to travel outside Ottawa, to make use of a mobile phone and an Internet-connected computer. The deportation process will include an assessment of the remaining potential danger the man poses to Canadians.

 A determination made whether Mohamed Harkat's presence in Canada reflects a threat to national security, taking into account the 13 years of his arrest, imprisonment, house arrest and bail conditions and court decisions. Should a risk be seen as ongoing, attention by investigators would then turn to the issue of Mr. Harkat's risk if he is returned to Algeria.

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