A tearful Mohamed Harkat and his wife Sophie are vowing to press on with their marathon legal fight after a Federal Court ruling that declared the Ottawa man a threat to Canadian security.
Mr. Harkat told a news conference Friday that he was shaken by the decision, which brings him a significant step closer to deportation to his native Algeria. He plans to appeal.
“I can't sleep. I'm not thinking straight, I have pain in my stomach,” said Mr. Harkat, repeatedly dabbing at his eyes during the emotional session.
Mr. Harkat, a former gas station attendant and pizza delivery man, was arrested eight years ago Friday under a national security certificate on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. He denies any involvement in terrorism.
Flanked by his lawyers and a clutch of supporters, Ms. Harkat called the ruling a “punch in the guts that will leave marks” for a long time.
“We will never, ever accept this judgment. We asked for the truth and this is not the truth,” she said.
“My husband will never admit to things he did not know, or admit knowing people he does not know.
“This fight is just beginning. I will stand by my husband till the end.”
In a companion ruling, Mr. Justice Simon Noel affirmed the constitutionality of the security certificate system the government is using to remove Mr. Harkat.
Mr. Harkat, 42, says he's simply a refugee who fled strife-torn Algeria and worked with an aid agency in Pakistan before coming to Canada 15 years ago.
He argues he will be tortured if returned to his homeland.
In his ruling, Judge Noel called Mr. Harkat a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network, including Ahmed Said Khadr, the late father of Toronto's Omar Khadr, imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. Judge Noel found Mr. Harkat's testimony in the case to be incoherent and implausible at times.
Mr. Harkat's lawyers say much of the evidence the judge consulted remains secret and has never been tested through cross-examination.
Norm Boxall, co-counsel for Mr. Harkat, characterized it as hearsay.
“All we know is that the decision is based in large part on material that was never made public,” he said Friday.
“We will be doing everything we can to appeal this judgment.”
Mr. Harkat, whose first language is Arabic, says he told the truth. “You go to the court and you explain yourself exactly what happened,” he said.
“You're coming for this country to have life, to build yourself ... and all of a sudden you know you're attacked.”
His wife suspects the case has lasted eight years because an informant – a person she knows – provided false information to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. “Why would someone do this?”
Ihsaan Gardee of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations stood squarely behind the Harkats, calling the case an injustice.
“It is a sad defeat for civil liberties in Canada.”