National Post

Saturday, December 12, 2009

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Documents implicating Harkat to stay secret

Federal Court Ruling

Kate Jaimet,  Canwest News Service 

The Federal Court has rejected an attempt by terror suspect Mohammed Harkat to obtain more information about the intelligence sources who implicated him in alleged al-Qaeda activities.

In a ruling announced yesterday, Justice Simon Noel decided not to release Canadian Security Intelligence Service reports concerning covert human sources to Mr. Harkat or his lawyer, on the grounds that doing so could harm both national security and the individuals involved.

The reports are available to the judge, prosecutors and to court-appointed special advocates -- lawyers with high-security clearance who are privy to secret evidence and may question witnesses on Mr. Harkat's behalf.

"Having reviewed the reports -- this Court concludes that it would be injurious to national security to provide them to counsel for Mr. Harkat," the judge wrote. "The reports are highly sensitive, would identify human sources and, at times, include foreign agency information provided to CSIS in confidence."

Mr. Harkat, who is from Ottawa, was arrested on a security certificate in December 2002, based on secret evidence that, according to the Canadian government, implicates him as an al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

CSIS believes he was a modest player in jihadist circles in the early 1990s, before claiming political asylum

in Canada in 1995, and was also connected to jihadists in this country after his arrival. He was released on bail in 2006 under conditions that included wearing a GPS ankle bracelet.

Mr. Harkat maintains his innocence and is fighting against deportation back to his native Algeria.

To help build his case, Mr. Harkat requested that the court release information, held by the Canadian government, about the reliability and collaboration of any human sources who gave information about him to CSIS.

He requested "information about the source's relationship with CSIS, motivation, payment, other targets, citizenship immigration status, criminal record, etc."

He also requested information about Mohamed El Barseigy and Ahmed Derbas -- stating he would like them to testify as witnesses, but does not know how to contact them.

Judge Noel rejected the requests on the basis of national security and protection of the individuals involved. The ruling did not deal with the constitutionality of the security certificate against Mr. Harkat, which is being contested in a separate case.