Canada al-Qaida case in top court

A Moroccan man allegedly belonging to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network has won the chance to launch a Supreme Court appeal in Canada.

    The suspect is accused of having been with al-Qaida leaders

    The appeal challenges the constitutionality of Canada's controversial security certificates, under which suspects can be held indefinitely.

    Adil Charkaoui had been held for almost two years under a security certificate on government accusations that he had been seen with al-Qaida members and trained in Afghanistan.
    A lower court freed Charkaoui in February on bail, against the wishes of the Canadian government.

    But his supporters say he remains essentially under house arrest under the certificate and is still fighting deportation.
    "I am claiming no more than my right as a human being to a fair trial, to life, liberty and security of the person, to equality as well as to freedom from arbitrary detention, and from cruel and unusual punishment," he said in a statement on Thursday.
    Public Security Minister Anne McLellan declined to comment on the facts in the case, but played down the significance of the court's decision to hear the matter.


    "I think that for whatever reason they saw something in this particular case that they wanted to take a look at"

    Anne McLellan,
    Public Security Minister

    "Lower courts have upheld security certificates, the Supreme Court itself has upheld the security certificate process. I think that for whatever reason they saw something in this particular case that they wanted to take a look at," she told reporters.
    In its brief statement, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for its decision to hear Charkaoui's appeal.

    Al-Qaida links
    When he was released on bail in February, McLellan had said Charkaoui was still a threat to national security.

    Federal officials have said Abu Zubaida, senior lieutenant to bin Laden, had reported seeing Charkaoui in Afghanistan in 1993 and 1997-98.

    Another al-Qaida operative said he trained with him in Afghanistan in 1998.
    Charkaoui, who won permanent resident status in Canada in 1995, denies the charges.
    Security certificates need only to be signed by the solicitor general and the immigration minister, and endorsed by a Federal Court judge.

    The appeal is likely to be heard in the first half of next year, with a decision probably not being until late in 2006 or in 2007.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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