Detained in Canada for More than 11 Years without Charge, Mohammad Mahjoub Gains Significant Freedoms

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Toronto man asks for freedom after 11 and a half years of detention without charge: Court Says Government fails to show that it is reasonable to keep Mahjoub under conditions
Toronto, 3 February 2012 - A Federal Court decision says the government failed to show that it is reasonable to maintain intrusive conditions of control and surveillance on Mohammad Mahjoub, arrested under a security certificate almost twelve years ago. The decision is the outcome of detention review hearings that took place in late 2011.

"People who care about justice and are not frightened by vague, unproven and unconvincing allegations must call for Mr. Mahjoub's immediate release from ALL conditions. The court is clear: the government has failed to show that he should be kept under his current conditions. The question is then why are any conditions maintained? His full liberty must be restored to him immediately," said Mary Foster, an activist with the People's Commission Network.

While the decision does not free Mr. Mahjoub entirely, he has nevertheless won considerable concessions.
Detained without charge for almost 12 years, Toronto man gains significant freedoms
For the first time since 2000, he will be able to go anywhere in Toronto without supervision or notifying the CBSA; in addition, his curfew will be lifted and a camera in front of his house removed; and he will be able to travel anywhere in Canada.

"I am looking forward to enjoying more freedom," said Mr. Mahjoub, "Maybe for others it doesn't seem like much, but to someone who has been denied the right to walk about or travel freely for twelve years it is very precious. It gives me a foretaste of the day when this nightmare will be behind me entirely and my name will be cleared from false allegations and malicious labels."

Many intrusive conditions nevertheless remain, such as a prohibition on use of internet and cell phone, phone tapping, and supervision outside Toronto.

"It is very disturbing that the Court says the presumption of innocence does not apply in security certificate cases because there are no charges," added Foster. "That is a very dangerous logic. Where are we headed with this?"

A series of scandals rocked Mr. Mahjoub's case over the last year. In December 2011, media reports revealed the existence of a secret CSIS memo in which the spy agency admitted that "the bulk of information" in Mr. Mahjoub's security certificate file was tainted by torture. During the summer, Department of Justice staff seized confidential documents belonging to Mr. Mahjoub and his lawyers from the Federal Court, mingling it with their own. Mr. Mahjoub has applied for a permanent stay because of the serious and ongoing breach of client-solicitor privilege. Neither of these issues were considered in this week's decision.

Mr. Mahjoub is a torture survivor who was accepted as a refugee in Canada in 1996. The 51-year old father of two was arrested under an immigration "security certificate" on the request of CSIS in June 2000. After his release from prison, he was placed under intrusive house arrest conditions, pending the final outcome of his case.

Two other men remain under security certificates in Canada: Mohamed Harkat in Ottawa, an Algerian refugee who has been fighting a security certificate for nine years, and Mahmoud Jaballah in Toronto, a torture survivor from Egypt who was arrested in 1999, released, and then re-arrested on the same information in 2001. Certificates against Hassan Almrei and Adil Charkaoui were thrown out in 2009; both men are now suing the government for reparations.

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