Monday, May 14, 2007

Ruling delays review of terror suspect's deportation order

Friday, May 11, 2007 | 4:36 PM ET

CBC News
Court proceedings involving the government's efforts to deport a terrorism suspect to Algeria cannot continue until Canada's security certificate law has been rewritten, a federal judge has ruled.

Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa man accused of having ties to the extremist group al-Qaeda, was arrested in 2002 and ordered deported to Algeria in 2005 under a federal security certificate.

The certificate allows the government to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial based on secret evidence and deport suspects born in foreign countries.

Justice François Lemieux ruled Friday in Ottawa that the next step in the deportation process for Harkat ­ a Federal Court review of the deportation order ­ must be delayed following February's Supreme Court ruling that the security certificate system violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Supreme Court ruling gave the federal government one year to rewrite the law.

Harkat's lawyers argued that the process to deport Harkat should not continue during that time.

Government lawyers argued that they still had the legal right and the duty to proceed with the deportation process.

Harkat came to Canada from Algeria in 1994 and was granted refugee status in 1997.

He was arrested in December 2002 on accusations that he was a sleeper agent with al-Qaeda.

After his arrest, Harkat spent three years in jail and has been under strict house arrest since his release.

In December 2006, Federal Court agreed to review the 2005 deportation order against him. That review was scheduled to begin next week.

Harkat says he fears being tortured and killed if he is returned to Algeria.