|Jan. 12, 2005. 01:00 AM|
Spy agency destroyed notes on Charkaoui
Man questioned over Al Qaeda accusations
MONTREAL—Lawyers for alleged terrorist Adil Charkaoui moved yesterday to have the case against him dropped, saying Canada's spy agency tainted the evidence by destroying notes from two interviews with him. Defence lawyer Dominique Larochelle said she'll ask a Federal Court judge to quash a security certificate that has kept Charkaoui behind bars since May, 2003. Justice Simon Noel will hear arguments next Tuesday after a government lawyer told the court the Canadian Security Intelligence Service destroyed key notes that form the basis of Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, 2002, interviews. Larochelle told Noel any CSIS evidence related to Charkaoui is compromised if the source notes no longer exist. "I would warn you to be cautious about the information that you have in your possession," she told the judge, referring to CSIS documents that have been kept secret from the defence for reasons of national security. "Under what circumstances was information gleaned from Mr. Charkaoui? Were they (the interviews) conducted in a context of intimidation?" Noel admonished the spy service yesterday, saying he was disturbed to hear the notes had been destroyed. "I met with government lawyers and I told them that this was totally unacceptable," said the judge. "I am startled about this, just as you are." Justice Department lawyer Daniel Roussy told the court CSIS usually destroys interview notes once it has compiled a report based on the notes. He also suggested Charkaoui didn't need the notes since he was present at the interviews. "Adil Charkaoui can testify about what happened during the interviews," said Roussy. Charkaoui, a 31-year-old landed immigrant, has been behind bars on a national security certificate that deems him to be a security threat. The government says he's an Al Qaeda sleeper agent. He'll be deported to his native Morocco if Noel upholds the certificate. Charkaoui has repeatedly denied any terror links. Charkaoui has tried several times unsuccessfully to be released on bail. Larochelle said Charkaoui provided CSIS with a detailed rebuttal of the allegations against him during the 2002 interviews. But all that remains of the interviews is a classified summary, and the defence has been provided with only one paragraph of the document. The paragraph says Charkaoui agreed during the first meeting to take a lie-detector test to prove his innocence. But it goes on to say that in the second meeting, he denied he was a terrorist and refused to take the polygraph test before storming out of the interview. Barabara Campion, a spokesperson for CSIS, defended her agency's policy of destroying source information. She said CSIS has the right to decide which aspects of an interview are kept in its permanent records. "Ultimately it is CSIS's decision to make because we're the ones with the mandate to investigate threats," Campion said in an interview.