Terror suspect Mohamed Harkat, who on Wednesday lost his fight against the government's use of a security certificate to detain him, says he's so sure he'll be killed if he is deported from Canada to Algeria that the government should just send a casket along with him.
Harkat's constitutional challenge against the security certificate the government relied on in his case was rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled Wednesday that the legal process used to detain Harkat for years was fair and reasonable, paving the way for the government to deport the Algerian refugee.
'You'll have to send me with a box. They're going to torture me and bury me in it.' - Mohamed Harkat
"The ultimate goal of [the challenge], it's shattered. That's all 12 years of waiting for the highest court in the land to give me a fair and open trial to defend myself," Harkat said Thursday at a joint press conference in Ottawa with his wife, Sophie Lamarche.
"So, basically, what's left now is the government of Canada wants to send me to Algeria. You'll have to send me with a box. They're going to torture me and bury me in it."
Lamarche said Harkat and his supporters were "totally devastated and shocked” by the court’s decision but would continue to fight for his rights.
"I will fight all the way to keep him safe and to keep him home where he belongs,” she said.
She said she and Harkat cried themselves to sleep Wednesday night and that she has lost faith in the Canadian justice system.
Harkat, 45, was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent — an accusation he denies. The federal government is trying to deport the Ottawa resident on a security certificate — a seldom-used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism.
The former gas station attendant and pizza delivery man doesn’t know what the evidence is against him, his legal team says.
"The worst part about this decision is that he will never have a chance to clear his name,” Lamarche said.
Harkat's lawyer, Norm Boxall, said the ball is now in the government's court and he's not ready to announce yet how he might respond.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Wednesday that the government welcomes the decision.
Harkat has claimed that he faces torture or death if returned to Algeria, and since the Canadian government cannot deport individuals to countries where they are likely to face such circumstances — except under exceptional circumstances — Harkat could potentially remain in a state of immigration limbo for years.
Harkat was born in Algeria, came to Canada in 1995 and was granted refugee status in 1997. He married Lamarche, a Canadian citizen, and she later became an advocate for his cause.