An Egyptian refugee jailed or under strict house arrest for more than 11 years made a direct and emotional public appeal Thursday to be charged with a crime or released unconditionally.
Speaking outside Federal Court where his case grinds on, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub said his ordeal has taken an immense toll on him and his family.
“The whole family has broken down,” an emotional Mr. Mahjoub said.
“There is no justice.”
Based on secret evidence, the federal government branded Mr. Mahjoub, 51, of Toronto, a threat to national security for links to terrorism in 2000.
He spent seven years in jail before being released on conditions — including constant surveillance — that one expert said were the most draconian in Canadian history.
Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show Canada's spy agency conceded three years ago that most of its evidence against the married father of three, who came to Canada in 1995, was derived from sources linked to torture.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Thursday the government does not approve of illegal acts, such as extracting information through torture, but will use information to protect Canadians.
Mr. Toews refused to get involved in the case.
“I leave that to the security experts and the lawyers,” said Mr. Toews, who was in Toronto for an announcement.
“They believe there's justification to proceed on this matter.”
An agent with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service testified last week that Mr. Mahjoub remained a threat to Canada even though CSIS had no new information to support that assessment.
Mr. Mahjoub called on the government to put its evidence on the table and charge him, or release him.
“We are in limbo,” he said.
“There is no evidence shown to me or to my lawyer to defend me.”
He said subjecting him to intrusive house arrest, including constant surveillance by Canada Border Services Agency, is inhuman.
Mr. Mahjoub's wife Mona Elfouli, who advocated for years for her husband's release, refused on Thursday to discuss the role the protracted proceedings played in their split.
“We're not together anymore,” said Ms. Elfouli, the mother of their two sons Ibrahim and Yusuf.
“I'm not willing to comment on the whole issue.”
The cases of Mr. Mahjoub and four other Muslim foreigners detained under national security certificates have drawn the attention of human rights advocates.
“The government should cease its reliance on evidence that may have been obtained through torture to justify ongoing security restrictions for Mr. Mahjoub, said Andrea Prasow with Human Rights Watch.
“To deprive someone of his liberty, without so much as a trial, on evidence that may be derived from torture is illegal under both Canadian and international law.”
Karl Flecker with the Canadian Labour Congress called it “long overdue” that Ottawa shows it does not condone torture or information gleaned by the torture of others.
Mr. Mahjoub is currently before Federal Court trying to get conditions of his house arrest lifted or eased while he fights his national security certificate as unreasonable.
His lawyers are also arguing the government violated his rights by listening into private conversations he had with them and for mistakenly seizing their confidential documents.
Of the other four others similarly branded as threats to Canada, two have successfully challenged Ottawa's case and are suing the government.
Two others, Algerian Mohamed Harkat in Ottawa and Egyptian Mahmoud Jaballah in Toronto, are still fighting.