It’s always been a tough slog for Mohamed Harkat.
Imprisoned for four years under a security certificate, and then released under tough bail conditions for another four, he has been fighting deportation to Algeria as a suspected terrorist for nearly a decade.
And now he’s been declared, “on the balance of probabilities,” to be an al-Quaeda sleeper agent. Justice Simon Noël, who has been scathing about the machinations of CSIS in the past, apparently found the shaky testimony of CSIS agents sufficiently compelling to uphold most of the government’s allegations against Harkat.
Much of the evidence against him, however, was examined by the judge in secret. It was not available to the defence in open court, and so no cross-examination was possible. As for CSIS, it destroyed other evidence and withheld exculpatory evidence in the case. The onus was on Harkat to prove his innocence—when he was not even permitted to be aware of the entirety of the government’s case against him.
The behaviour of CSIS, under a judicial microscope as the hearing wore on, certainly led me to believe that Justice Noël would find in Harkat’s favour. But perhaps the judge felt it was time for the government to win one. Maybe he shared similar concerns to those of the foaming former CSIS Director Jim Judd. Certainly from what was publicly available during this long process, considerable doubt remains that Harkat had anything to do with terrorism.
Here’s the judgement. I have not yet had time to digest it. In the meantime, I confess to feeling queasy about both the fairness of the hearing and its outcome.