Wiretap privacy appeal dismissed by Supreme Court in drug trafficking case

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday in the case of a B.C. man who says his rights were violated when RCMP shared wiretap evidence with U.S.

Case relates to B.C. man, who says his rights were violated when RCMP shared wiretap evidence with U.S.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday to dismiss the appeal of a B.C. man who says his rights were violated when the RCMP handed over the results of wiretaps to U.S.authorities.

Andrew Wakeling, of Lillooet, B.C., has been fighting extradition to the United States since 2007, when he was arrested and charged with trafficking and exporting ecstasy to Minnesota from Ontario.

Those charges were based on evidence from intercepted phone calls collected by the RCMP and passed on to U.S. authorities. Wakeling wasn't charged in Canada, but was ordered to be extradited to the U.S.

Ahead of the decision, Michael Feder, of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said says the provision that allows police to hand over wiretap evidence is a violation of the charter of rights.

"You go and you do the wiretap. Maybe you get what you thought you were going to get. Maybe you get some other good stuff," said Feder.

"The idea that the police are empowered, they're given permission to share this with anyone anywhere, for essentially any reason. It's a little bit scary. Because this is a very powerful invasion of privacy."

The Supreme Court ruling means the previous rulings of an extradition judge and the B.C. Court of Appeal are upheld, rejecting Wakeling's argument that the RCMP should not have turned over the wiretap evidence without a court order.

The appeal court judged the wiretaps were conducted legally and the Mounties followed international policing policies in giving the material to the U.S..

There was no need for a court order and no violation of Wakeling's rights, the appeal court said. 

Speaking ahead of the decision, Feder had called on the Supreme Court to strike down the provision in the criminal code that currently permits the sharing of wiretap evidence.

"I think Canadians can reasonably agree that we don't want to have our private communications intercepted by the Canadian government...for reasons having nothing at all to do with Canada."