Ottawa

Gadhafi regime left files in Ottawa

Libyan Canadians say they are anxious to learn what sensitive information loyalists to Moammar Gadhafi may have left behind at the ambassador's residence in Ottawa.
Libyan-Canadians in Ottawa say they are anxious to see what is contained in documents left in Ottawa by embassy workers who supported the Gadhafi regime. 2:28

Libyan Canadians say they are anxious to learn what sensitive information loyalists to Moammar Gadhafi may have left behind at the ambassador's residence in Ottawa.

Last week the National Transitional Council appointed Abubaker Karmos to the post of ambassador, filling a vacancy at the position since the federal government closed the embassy in February.

The announcement fuelled the hopes of some Libyan Canadians hoping to see what they can learn about the activities of the embassy before its closure.

Dozens of boxes were left at the $7-million mansion in the Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood, according to people who have been inside the residence.

"I believe everything is in the residence right now," said Mustafa Shakshouki, a spokesman with the Libyan Canadian Association.

"It's the property of Libya. We hope everything is still there. If there's documents, computers, anything that would help to track what the regime was doing here, we'd love to see that. But we don't know what to expect," he said.

The residence was last home to Gadhafi appointee Abdulrahman Abutata, once voted the city's "most discreet diplomat" by his peers in a poll from the publication Embassy.

Diplomats under the Gadhafi regime have been accused of spying on and threatening Libyans in Canada, and Shakshouki said most Libyan Canadians have come to accept that as a given.

The question for many Libyan-Canadians now is how deep the spying went and who may have acted as informants.

Salah Dau, also with the Libyan-Canadian Association and a vocal opponent of the Gadhafi regime, said despite the potential for unpleasant discoveries, the documents, if any, need to come out.

"It hurts you when your own brother wrote a report about you," said Dau. "But still you would like to know who wrote about you. Let the truth come out."

Some Libyan-Canadians CBC News spoke with said Gadhafi loyalists had plenty of time to shred sensitive files and would never have been foolish enough to leave them behind.

The residence has also already had at least one break-in since it was vacated earlier this year.

Contractor Jeff Sharpe said he was working on a house across the street last week when he saw a group of people leaving the residence with a portrait of Gadhafi.

"They came out and broke a picture of him in half, and squatted on it, doing gestures of various kinds against Gadhafi. It was obvious they weren't followers of Gadhafi at all," said Sharpe.