Friday, June 23, 2006

Terrorism suspect Harkat released on bail

From CBC News (Terrorism suspect Harkat released on bail, June 22):

Mohamed Harkat, the Algerian terrorism suspect who spent more than three years in a Canadian prison without ever being charged, was released on bail Wednesday afternoon.

In December 2002, Canadian authorities arrested the Ottawa man on a security certificate that cited his alleged ties with terrorists.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service accused him of being an al-Qaeda "sleeper agent," and alleged that Harkat trained under Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in Afghanistan.

He has denied the allegations.

Harkat is one of several men detained under security certificates, which allow the federal government to hold people indefinitely, without charge, if it suspects them of posing a threat to national security.

Read all of the CBC article

The constitutionality of the national security certificate used to detain Harkat is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court. News outlets and human rights activists make a big fuss over the fact that Harkat is being held without being charged. They make it seem like Canada is a police state where anyone can be arrested and held indefinitely. This is misleading. Harkat is not a Canadian citizen. He is free to go home any time he wants. He was imprisoned because the agencies responsible for our national security deemed him to be a danger. Ottawa wants to deport him, but he refuses to go. This all goes back to the Supreme Court's Singh decision, in which the court ruled that section 7 of the Charter of Rights applied to anyone present in Canada regardless of whether they were a citizen or not. Thanks to another Supreme Court decision, Canada can only deport foreigners who fear being tortured under "exceptional" cases of "extraordinary circumstances." This creates a huge problem, because most terrorists come from countries such as Egypt and Pakistan where governments do sometimes torture prisoners. A foreigner suspected of being a terrorist can delay deportation for years by claiming he will be tortured. That's the reason Tamil Tiger fundraiser Manickavasagam Suresh has been able to delay his deportation for more than a decade. These court cases cost a fortune.