Charkaoui free on $50,000 bail

Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui, a suspected terrorist who has spent the past 21 months in jail under a ministerial security certificate, was released from detention Friday night.

On Thursday, Federal Court Judge Simon Noel decided that Charkaoui, 31, be released on $50,000 bail, subject to a number of conditions.

Charkaoui, accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, must respect a curfew, stay with his family and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. Limits were also placed on who he can contact and on his use of computers.

Bail was raised by several people, including Oscar-winning filmmaker Denys Arcand; Alexandre Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau; singer Bruce Cockburn; and former cabinet ministers Warren Allmand and Flora MacDonald.

In his ruling, Noel said that Charkaoui seemed to pose little threat.

"The danger to national security and to the security of others has eased with time ... I would even say the danger has been neutralized at the time of this evaluation," he wrote.

The judge also noted the support for Charkaoui from people in several walks of life, including politics, religion, the labour movement and the arts.

Noel also said Charkaoui has the emotional and financial support of his family.

"Although it is to be expected that family members rally in these circumstances, the fact remains that their persistence and devotion in the case are edifying and a tribute to them," he said. "Therein lies a potential sanctuary of calm and possibly of security."

This was Charkaoui's fourth bail application.

Public Security Minister Anne McLellan would have preferred he remain in detention.

Charkaoui has denied any links to terrorists but two men, currently in detention in the United States as suspect terrorists, say they met Charkaoui at a training camp in Afghanistan in 1998.

Under a security certificate, the government can detain and deport people without releasing all the evidence against them.

At a court hearing in January, Charkaoui's lawyers argued the case against him should be dropped because the Canadian Security Intelligence Service destroyed key notes from interviews with him.

In 2002, intelligence agents held two interviews with Charkaoui, a permanent Canadian resident who has lived in Montreal since 1995.

The report they wrote based on those interviews is part of the evidence against him.

A government lawyer told the court the notes had been destroyed, something CSIS agents normally do after writing a final report.

Defence lawyer Dominique Larochelle said she wanted to see the notes or hear a recording of those meetings because she felt they might cast her client in a favourable light.

Noel said at the time that he was troubled by the destruction of the documents.