Mohamed Harkat’s secret trial threatens us all

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Human Rights
Tags: , , ,

Mohamed Harkat and wife Sophie at a press conference in Ottawa, Dec. 10, 2010. Photo: Sean Kilpatrick

I don’t know whether Mohamed Harkat is a terrorist or not. Neither do you. How could we? Harkat was convicted in a secret trial, based on secret “evidence” provided by shadowy sources who will remain unknown to Mr. Harkat and the rest of us unless we overturn the unjust, draconian laws that made this travesty of justice possible.

Yesterday Federal Court Justice Simon Noel upheld the security certificate issued against Mohamed Harkat in 2002, opining that ” . . . although the danger associated to Mr. Harkat has diminished over time, he still poses a danger to Canada, but at a lesser level . . .” This decision makes it possible for Immigration Canada to deport Mr. Harkat to his native Algeria where he would face imprisonment and torture, if not death.

A security certificate according to Public Safety Canada is a document issued by the immigration minister to force the “removal from Canada of non-Canadians who have no legal right to be here and who pose a serious threat to Canada and Canadians.”

Under the legislation governing security certificates (Bill C-3), courts are permitted to consider secret information in closed sessions. The defendant is not permitted to see this information or to question it. “Special advocates,” appointed by the minister who issued the certificate, are allowed to see the secret information, but they are not allowed to disclose it to the defendant or his lawyer. (See this in-depth analysis of security certificates.)

This process is such an egregious violation of the principle of natural justice it boggles the mind that we allow it to exist. Under Canadian law, citizens are allowed to face their accusers in open court, to have ALL of the evidence laid out before them, to cross-examine witnesses, and defend themselves. They are considered innocent until they are proven guilty in a fair and transparent process. The security certificate process violates all of these principles and should outrage any Canadian who believes in human rights.

This process should also make citizens fear for their own safety. We are next, as the Combating Terrorism Act, which passed second reading this fall, makes clear. This act, which applies to ALL OF US, provides for warrantless arrests, compulsory testimony and 12-month preventive imprisonment of people suspected of planning terrorist acts. It is the perfect companion to the practice of allowing courts to rely on “evidence” provided by anonymous spooks hiding beneath the cloak of “national security.”

Mohamed Harkat is continuing his eight year struggle for a fair hearing. Visit his site and read his story. It is one that should concern all Canadians.

  1. LeDaro says:

    We have our own Gitmo. I wonder what Joseph Harper will do next.

  2. Brian says:

    Thank you, Paul, for blogging on this important case. I maintain the Mohamed Harkat Website and have taken the liberty of re-printing your words on our site. I agree with you that this repression will not stop at the targeting of Muslims and Arabs. The net will widen for sure as you point out with the coming of the “Combating Terroism Act” now before parliament. Wake up folks. If you cannot feel empathy for Mr. Harkat at least feel empathy for your children and your grandchildren.

    • webmaster says:

      Thank you, Brian – and by extension, everyone else involved it the Harkat campaign. It takes guts and determination to defend someone who is accused of being a terrorist in today’s paranoid political climate. Unless we stick together and insist on fair treatment for all, none of us is free.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your article and support. Moe is devastated, but we will fight all the way until the truth comes out. We never expected this kind of ruling. It was a shock to many. Not justice denied, but justice delayed ! We need to continue public pressure for a fair and open trial.
    All the best and thanks again
    Sophie Harkat

  4. aesop says:

    Naturally, if you support Galloway, you support anyone who is accused of terrorism or being a risk.
    If he is lilywhite clean, what can he have to fear in his home country of Algeria?
    Mark my words, his useful idiot lawyers will keep him here for years more. On who’s dollar?

    Just suppose he were allegedly responsible for the deaths of 100 innocent civilians in Algeria, with a concommitant death penalty?
    Then Canada’s refusal to return him (to any country with a death penalty) would be a denial of justice to the families of those victims. Is that a fair trade for the ‘preservation’ of one life?
    All other commentators know better than Judge Noel and CSIS what risks he presents to Canada, and the costs of monitoring him for the next ?? 40 years?
    It strains credulity that he is 100% innocent and that ALL claims against him are fabricated, or the result of mistakes.

    • webmaster says:

      The issue is clear: If Mohamed Harkat is a terrorist, he should be charged with an offense, tried in open court, allowed to see all of the evidence and cross-examine all of it, receive the all the normal protections including the exclusion of evidence that has been acquired through torture and be judged by a jury of his peers. None of this is allowed under our draconian “security certificate” laws.

      Your screen name is well chosen, Aesop, for you do like to deal in fables. Your support for the “security certificate” process brings closer the day when we will all know what it is like to live in a country like Algeria where torture and secret detentions are the norm. Check out Amnesty’s 2010 report on the state of human rights in Algeria and tell me that Harkat’s innocence would offer him any protection.

  5. LeDaro says:

    Aesop, you indeed qualify to be a fable. And you believe in a person being guilty before proven innocent. Yes Joseph Harper will love you. He also believes in fables as he thinks that Canadians love him.

  6. aesop says:

    @ LeDaro. Your ah against Harper is not cute, funny or intelligent.
    It is incredibly stupid and arrogant, and a slap in the face to all the victims of Goebels: jews, gypsies, slavs, the euthanized, and all the civilians and troops who died, were wounded, raped, robbed, displaced, or ‘only’ suffered privation.
    And repetition does not make it so.
    You are practicing his technique.
    YOU are Joseph Goebels!

    Where did I say Harkat was guilty?
    Could I accuse you and PSG of finding the judge and CSIS guilty?
    Let’s hear from more of PSG’s sycophant supporters, who believe that anyone accused of terrorism in Canada is AUTOMATICALLY INNOCENT, therefore CSIS and the RCMP are the guilty parties.

    Did you promulgate similar opinions on the ‘Toronto 17/18’, before half of them plead guilty? Like the MAWO thugs in BC?

    • LeDaro says:

      “…..and a slap in the face to all the victims of Goebels: jews, gypsies, slavs, the euthanized, and all the civilians and troops who died, were wounded, raped, robbed, displaced, or ‘only’ suffered privation.”
      You not only believe in fables but create many as you go along. However, real aesop’s fables had deep meanings to them and yours are balderdash hyperbole. How victims like jews, gypsies and slavs are related to this case. Man take a cold shower and maybe that will improve your thinking instead of suggesting that impose dictatorship in Canada where individuals have no rights and all the problems will disappear. Probably you will like to abolish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms too. Yes you need an icy-cold shower and pour a lot of it on your head.

      • aesop says:

        I can see why you prefer pictures, because you can’t use words.

        DENY that you labelled Harper as Joseph (Goebbels).

        Very ‘clever’, very ‘funny’, but an egregious insult to Harper (intentional) and to Goebbels’s victims (stupid and inane), and that’s giving you the benefit of the doubt.
        Of course it’s not about Harkat, it’s about you and your vast exaggeration.

        “…impose dictatorship in Canada where individuals have no rights..” That is called catastrophisation. Look it up.

        And, of course, you get a free pass from PSG, even though he said something like – You don’t change people minds by attacking them, and, be civil. Tell me if that makes PSG a hypocrite?

        “Probably you will like to abolish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms too.” That is pure extrapolation.
        “How…related to this case.” You said it! I never mentioned the Charter. Proves your cold showers don’t help you. Back to Bugs Bunny / Michael Moore.

  7. aesop says:

    @PSG. Instead of arguing with you, why don’t you offer a tenable solution? Name me a major country and system which can protect the majority of its citizens from the anarchist or terrorist minorities, through a legal process, without destroying its system of protection by revealing ‘inside’ sources. I say major, because The Isle of Man probably doesn’t have such problems (except as a hub for Iranian arms shipments to Hamas & Hezbollah).
    Do you know of such a system? I think not, but your posturing makes you feel superior, maybe even smug.
    YOUR ‘solution’ is untenable, and you know it. CSIS will not reveal all. Maybe one source is a Harkat family member. Maybe one is an ex-terrorist living in Algeria. You would have that source (given Canada’s word of safety) destroyed to satisfy YOUR sense of justice?
    You believe in an unattainable Utopia, like all on the far left. Of course, in a real Utopia there is no war, not even conflict, one religion or none, everyone lives in comfort, there is no government, etc. etc.
    Your ‘proposals’ are 100 times my ‘fables’, truly fabulous.

    “…we will all know what it is like to live in a country like Algeria where torture and secret detentions are the norm.”
    Psychologists/psychiatrists call that catastrophization, like accidentally hitting your thumb with a hammer, and screaming that you’re dying. Others might just call it hyperbole.
    Either way, your exagerration destroys your credibility.
    Think about it.

    • webmaster says:

      Your faith is CSIS is remarkable. No accuser should be immune to cross-examination. Bone up on the Mayer Arar case and tell me that intelligence agencies should have the right to convict people in closed hearings.

      • aesop says:

        “Your faith is CSIS is remarkable.” Not sarcasm, I hope?
        Don’t CSIS have to go to a judge to issue a Security Certificate?
        Aren’t most judges left leaning? Don’t we hear more complaints of too soft sentences, rather than too hard?
        Is the same judge who issued the certificate hearing this case?

        Would I like to be the subject of an SC? No.
        But I don’t associate myself with or support Hamas, Hezbollah, the Tamil Tigers, the Taliban, or any of 1,000 other terrorist or anarchist organisations. I am 100 times more likely to be struck by lightning, than for that to happen.

        Like you, I don’t know what put Harkat on CSIS’s radar, but I have a little faith that one or two judges viewing evidence and procedures, in addition to CSIS, plus the knowledge that CSIS can be audited, all mitigate against outright bigotry/sloppiness/fascism/mis-identification/false witness/botched evidence/or whatever other conditions produced the wrongful situation that you/PAW/Harkat claim.

        And what we have is still better by far than the hell on earth that was the USSR under your hero Stalin. Love his show trials.

        And it’s better than your friend Ahmedinejad’s Iran, where Canadian/Iranian Zahra Kazemi was gang-raped, beaten, tortured and finally murdered by religious bigots, all for taking photographs. The same regime then released her murderer after a mock trial that Kafka could not have written.

        Have you/PAW written about that?
        It’s far worse than Harkat’s case.

  8. aesop says:

    @PSG Not a single answer.
    Just change the subject.

    Maher (not Mayer) Arar never showed any proof to the Canadian public.

    How about an answer to my proposal that you come up with a country/system which doesn’t DESTROY the security system?

  9. LeDaro says:


    “You don’t change people minds by attacking them, and, be civil.” PSG is 1000% right. Learn to be civil and maybe you will be able to think straight. You need a lot of growing up to do.

  10. aesop says:

    @ LeDaro

    “We have our own Gitmo. I wonder what Joseph Harper will do next.”

    “Learn to be civil and maybe you will be able to think straight. You need a lot of growing up to do.”

    Not only uncivil, and not straight thinking,
    but the last is ungrammatical too.

    A civil question:
    How many minds have you changed?

  11. LeDaro says:

    just think it this way that you have antagonized everyone on this thread. As far as criticism of grammar is concerned it is further evidence of your being foolish and patronizing. You fully understood what I meant.

  12. aesop says:


    “just think it this way…”?

    “…you have antagonized everyone on this thread.”
    Wow! You polled them all? Or are you speaking for them?

    “…further evidence of your being foolish and patronizing.”

    A civil question:
    How many minds have you changed?

  13. PSG says:

    @ aesop and Le Daro: Thank you both for enlivening the pages of this blog. It’s Christmas. Time for a truce. Hope you both enjoy the holidays. Have a happy and debate-filled new year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.