Montreal, 20 April 2007 - With Ahmed Ressam's admission that he
fabricated information against Quebecker Adil Charkaoui, there is
more reason than ever to question information provided by the
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the agency responsible
for initiating security certificate proceedings.
Mr. Charkaoui, whose constitutional challenge to the security
certificatewas upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2007,
stated, "This is not the first time that the flimsiness of CSIS's case
against me has been exposed. In 2004, the Federal Court agreed to
set aside any information provided by CSIS sourced to Abu
Zubaydah, because there was reason to believe it wasproduced under
torture in US custody. In January 2005, we learned that CSIS had
destroyed evidence in my case - this is the basis of a second challenge
that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear in the coming year. In
February of the same year, shortly after my release from prison,
Radio Canada published evidence indicating that information introduced
by CSIS and sourced to a Morrocan prisoner had been produced under
torture and had later been recanted."
"The role CSIS seems to have played, in introducing partial,
questionnable and even unlawfully obtained information against Mr.
Charkaoui, is very troubling," added Mary Foster, member of the
Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui. "CSIS is not supposed to be a
police force, building a case against an individual. It is supposed to
provide an impartial threat assessment."
"The security certificate legislation has provided the context for
error and abuse to occur, including the introduction of evidence
from this kind of unreliable 'jailhouse snitch'," stated Me. Dominique
Larochelle, Mr. Charkaoui's lawyer.
Charkaoui and his lawyers have sought to cross-examine Ressam
since his name was first published in connection with Charkaoui's
security certificate file in July 2003. However, government lawyers opposed
Charkaoui's right to cross-examine Mr. Ressam, finally admitting that
no affadavit from Ressam existed, only hearsay evidence. Ressam
was held under an unusual arrangement in the United States whereby
his prison sentence would be lessened if he provided information to
authorities during a period of four years. In March 2005, Charkaoui
submitted evidence in court that threw further doubt on the credibility
of information that Ressam had allegedly provided against Charkaoui.
This raised questions about CSIS's failure to have produced this same,
easily-obtained evidence, a Montreal arrest warrant indicating Ressam
was in fact in Montreal during a period he claimed to have been in
"This latest revelation also underscores the weakness of proposed
alternatives to the security certificate legislation. With a special
advocate in place, would this information have come out publicly?
I doubt it. Would keeping this information from the public serve
justice? Not in my view," added Charkaoui.
The government has announced that it is considering introducing
new security certificate legislation, in the aftermath of the Supreme
Court decision to strike down the security certificate as unconstitutional.
One alternativeunder consideration is the introduction of a
government-appointed lawyer,known as a special advocate, who will
have access to the secret informationbut be prevented from disclosing
it to his or her client or to the public.
"Mr. Ressam's retraction well illustrates that the usual rules of justice
with adverserial proceedings should apply in a judicial process with
such grave allegations against an individual, entailing a loss of reputation
and of liberty. It confirms the validity of the Supreme Court's conclusion
thatthe security certificate regime violates the Canadian Charter of
Rights andFreedoms," stated Me. Johanne Doyon, Mr. Charkaoui's
Charkaoui concluded, "It is another happy day for me and my family.
Anotherpiece of evidence has come to light to support what we have
been saying forthe past four years: that I am innocent of all the
allegations that have been thrown at me."
The security certificate against Mr. Charkaoui has never been upheld.
The case has been suspended since March 2005, when the government
was forced to withdraw a decision following Radio Canada's exposure
of a CSIS intelligence failure.
Although he has never undergone any trial, and although the law
itself has now been ruled unconstitutional, Mr. Charkaoui still remains
under severe restrictions that affect the freedom of his entire family.
He is subject to a strict curfew, must be accompanied by a
court-appointed supervisor every time he leaves his home, and is forced
to wear a GPS-tracking bracelet.