Hamilton man's 4-year complaint against CSIS dismissed

The final decision from the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) came Monday, years after Hamilton's Ken Stone files complaint over unwarranted house visit by two CSIS agents.

Ottawa makes decision years after complaint over unwarranted house visit by CSIS agents

Hamilton activist Ken Stone said CSIS agents paid him a visit at his home on Jan. 25, 2013 two weeks after an op-ed he wrote criticizing the prime minister's approach on Iran was published in the Hamilton Spectator. (Courtesy Henry Evans-Tenbrinke)

After a four-year battle with CSIS, Canada's national security agency, a Hamilton man's complaint has been rejected by the committee responsible for the agency's public oversight.

In January, 2012, Ken Stone wrote an editorial published in the Hamilton Spectator titled "Harper is wrong in demonizing Iran."

Stone wrote "Iran lives in peace with its neighbours and, unlike the U.S., hasn't attacked any country in over 200 years. It is developing nuclear energy to produce electricity because its oil reserves will run out in 20 years."

In January of 2013, two people knocked on the door of Stone's Hamilton Mountain home, identifying themselves as CSIS agents and said they were aware of an October 2011 trip he made to Iran to attend a conference on Palestinian human rights. 

The final decision from the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), a board of political appointees that examines CSIS's operations, came Monday, over four years since he first filed a complaint over the surprise visit. 

According to the SIRC's report, Stone's allegations were "unsupported."

"I'm disappointed that the committee did not find that CSIS had exceeded its mandate by coming and knocking on my door, unannounced and in my opinion, trying to put a chill on my activism," Stone told CBC. 

Stone claimed the CSIS agents visited his home in an effort to "intimidate" him. 

Stone has long been a vocal labour and anti-racism advocate, and says the agents asked him about an op-ed he wrote.

CSIS doesn't have to do anything that the security review committee recommends.- Ken Stone

In his April 24, 2013 letter to CSIS, Stone condemned the visit and alleged its purpose was to "was to intimidate me and members of my family from lawfully exercising our Charter rights to freedom of expression."

The SIRC hearing took place last September, after a series of delays. He testified, as did two CSIS officials in Ottawa. A private portion of the hearing took place, meaning no one from the public, including Stone and his lawyer could be present.   

Stone says his complaint made the public more aware that all interviews with CSIS are voluntary, something Stone would have liked to have known four years ago. 

"This part is what makes the four years of pursuing this complaint worthwhile," said Stone. 

In the SIRC's final report, the following recommendation was made to the Director of CSIS: "That CSIS review its policy to clarify the responsibilities of CSIS employees with respect to the voluntariness of interviews."

CSIS has no obligation to follow that recommendation.

"It's merely a recommendation and CSIS doesn't have to do anything that the security review committee recommends," said Stone. 

Stone used crowdfunding as a means to pay for his visits to Ottawa and the out-of-pocket expenses for his Ottawa lawyer, Bijon Roy who worked on the case pro bono.