Charkaoui nearly free
Court orders lifting of security certificate
The Federal Court of Canada said Thursday a security certificate against a Montreal man who has been imprisoned or under surveillance for six years will be dropped.
Judge Danielle Tremblay Lamer said the only question remaining is how soon it will happen.
Without being charged with any criminal offence, Adil Charkaoui spent two years in Canadian detention and another four years under house arrest after he was apprehended in 2003 on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda.
Thursday's decision will remove the remaining conditions on his detention, including his requirement to wear a GPS tracking bracelet and the $50,000 bail he posted, which will be returned.
"I was waiting for this day since 2003," said Charkaoui on the steps of the federal courthouse in Montreal, where he later cut off the bracelet with a pair of scissors.
"Six years of deprivation of freedom —two years in jail —four years with this bracelet under very draconic conditions before —and now I'm celebrating," Charkaoui said.
His mother Latifa said she wants to throw the bracelet into the river.
"I don't have any words to describe my emotion," she said.
Charkaoui was one of five suspects who were issued ministerial security certificates under a federal law created to detain or deport non-citizens considered to be a security threat.
Charkaoui, a landed immigrant from Morocco, has denied having any links to the terrorist group.
The case against Charkaoui was dealt a serious blow in August when the government withdrew evidence against him, saying that disclosing some information related to the case would endanger national security.
In a submission to Federal Court, the government said the rest of its evidence is too weak to support a national security certificate to deport Charkaoui. However, the government is still arguing Charkaoui shouldn't be allowed to stay in Canada.
CSIS said Thursday it stood by the accuracy and reliability of the information it submitted in the security certificate issued against Charkaoui.
Four other men — Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Hassan Almrei and Mohamed Harkat — who were issued security certificates have also been released on house arrest after periods of detention.
A Federal Court judge on Monday reduced the number of bail conditions for Harkat, saying there was no longer any need for CSIS to monitor his phone or mail, or for Harkat to observe a curfew, have his visitors approved in advance, or endure video surveillance inside and outside his Ottawa house.
Harkat's wife, Sophie, said Charkaoui's victory gives her hope.
"You know, security certificate just has no place in a democratic country," she said.