Khurram Sher, accused of al-Qaeda links, pleads not guilty

A onetime Canadian Idol contestant and former London, Ont., doctor accused of collaborating in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot pleaded not guilty as his trial began in Ottawa this morning.

London, Ont., pathologist and Canadian Idol contestant was arrested in August 2010

The London, Ont. pathologist pleaded not guilty to collaborating in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot. 2:14

A onetime Canadian Idol contestant and former London, Ont., doctor pleaded not guilty to collaborating in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot as his trial began in Ottawa this morning.

Khurram Sher pleaded not guilty in court at his trial Monday. (Laurie Foster-MacLeod/CBC)
​Khurram Syed Sher was arrested on Aug. 6, 2010, for allegedly working in a homegrown terrorism cell. 

On Monday, the Crown outlined its case before the Ontario Superior Court, including 96 wiretaps, 24 internet intercepts, 33 emails, 30 pages of admissions and seven searches.

The defence has admitted almost all of the Crown's evidence, but disputes Sher's role.The defence told the court that Sher was linked to a pre-existing conspiracy, but may not have understood or shared its goals.

The Crown and defence spent the day making arguments about the legal ground rules of the case. The Crown's first witnesses are expected to testify on Tuesday.

Court is expected to hear how police seized bomb-making manuals and 50 circuit boards intended to detonate explosives from an Ottawa townhouse.

Court is also expected to hear evidence from U.S. and British agencies, but it could be deemed inadmissible, according to an expert on terrorism and security intelligence at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

"It would be very difficult to demonstrate that this evidence would have been collected overseas in accordance with Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution," Christian Leuprecht said.

Sher is currently out on bail. Born in Montreal, he was working as a pathologist in London at the time of his arrest.

He spoke in a fake Pakistani accent and sang an Avril Lavigne song during his Canadian Idol audition.