Mohamed Harkat is no closer to deportation today after the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa ordered his case back to a federal court judge, saying some of his rights had been violated.
Harkat, a former Ottawa pizza delivery man, was arrested in 2002 and is facing removal from Canada under a certificate that declares him a security threat due to alleged terrorist links.
A judge who scrutinized the certificate said Harkat maintained ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network, including Ahmed Said Khadr — the late father of Toronto's Omar Khadr, who has spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Harkat, 43, has repeatedly denied any involvement with political extremism.
His lawyers argued to the Federal Court of Appeal that the security certificate system was unconstitutional, and said Harkat's rights were violated during the process because he was denied access to the evidence against him.
The three-judge panel found Harkat's rights were violated because he was denied access to electronic recordings that have since been destroyed.
The summaries of that evidence can now no longer be used against Harkat and requires the case to be reheard by the judge, said Court of Appeal Judge Gilles Létourneau in a written decision.
The panel also found that the judge erred in finding CSIS informers fall into a privileged class who are granted conditions of anonymity.
Security certificates constitutional
But the court did rule the current security certificate system is constitutional.
The original security certificate system was thrown out by the Supreme Court five years ago, but revamped to include so-called special advocates — lawyers who serve as watchdogs and test the evidence on behalf of the defendant, but who are limited in their ability to pursue evidence beyond what they are presented.
Wednesday's ruling is likely to be appealed.
Harkat claims he's a refugee from Algeria and that he would be tortured if he's sent back.
He lives at home with his wife, Sophie, but continues to wear an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, must check in with authorities weekly and cannot leave town without permission.