Politics

Misbahuddin Ahmed challenges federal move to revoke citizenship over terrorism

An Ottawa man serving time for his part in a homegrown terror conspiracy is asking a court to halt the federal government's attempt to strip him of Canadian citizenship.
Misbahuddin Ahmed is asking a court to halt the federal government's attempt to strip him of his Canadian citizenship. Ahmed was convicted of two terrorism-related charges in 2014. (CBC)

An Ottawa man serving time for his part in a homegrown terror conspiracy is asking a court to halt the federal government's attempt to strip him of Canadian citizenship.

In an application to the Federal Court of Canada, Misbahuddin Ahmed says the government is relying on unconstitutional provisions to revoke his citizenship.

Ahmed argues the provisions amount to "cruel and unusual treatment" and violate guarantees of fundamental justice.

He is just the latest to challenge the new law that allows the government to take Canadian citizenship away from someone convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage who is eligible to claim citizenship in another country.

Ahmed, 31, received a 12-year sentence in 2014 after being found guilty of conspiring to facilitate a terrorist activity and participating in the activities of a terrorist group. The former hospital technician is currently imprisoned at Warkworth Institution in Campbellford, Ont.

Ahmed was born in Pakistan but became a permanent resident of Canada at age 14. He attained Canadian citizenship in 2004, several months before turning 21.

On July 3 of this year, the government issued a notice of intent to revoke his citizenship — one of several notices that have gone out to people who fall under the new provisions. Hiva Alizadeh, convicted along with Ahmed in the conspiracy, has also received a notice.

The government has successfully stripped the citizenship of one individual — Zakaria Amara, found guilty in a Toronto terrorism plot — under the new process.

The court application from Ahmed says the revocation law violates the principle that a person cannot be punished twice for the same offence.

Ahmed's lawyer, Lorne Waldman, said his client is already serving a lengthy prison sentence.

"He'll pay his price to society for the crimes that he was found to have committed. And that's the way our legal system works," Waldman said Wednesday.

"It's pretty clear that the sole reason behind this revocation is to punish him again. And that's unacceptable."

Waldman is already involved in a broader challenge of the new citizenship law involving the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and Asad Ansari, who was also convicted in the Toronto plot.

This case is slated to proceed first and others, including that of Ahmed, will be placed on hold because essentially the same constitutional arguments are at play, Waldman said.

"There's no point in having six different judges hear six different cases which all raise the same issue."

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