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John Nuttall (left) and Amanda Korody (right) leave jail after being re-arrested and placed under a peace bond and released again, after a judge ruled the couple were entrapped by the RCMP in a police-manufactured crime, in Vancouver on July 29, 2016.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

A couple accused of plotting to blow up the B.C. Legislature with pressure cookers almost 10 years ago has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, province and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, arguing their Charter rights were violated and their Islamic beliefs were manipulated to result in “malicious prosecution.”

The legal challenge comes four years after a unanimous ruling by B.C.’s Appeal Court in December, 2018, to uphold a judge’s decision to stay terrorism charges against John Nuttall and Amanda Korody because of entrapment by police. The pair was found guilty in June, 2015, of conspiring to commit murder and possessing an explosive in a public place on behalf of a terrorist group.

Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody were arrested in 2013 following a six-month undercover operation by the RCMP that began after police received information that Mr. Nuttall had openly expressed violent extremist views. The trial heard that the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency informed Mounties in 2013 that Mr. Nuttall had tried to buy potassium nitrate, which can be used to make explosives.

Justice Catherine Bruce of the B.C. Supreme Court said in 2016 that police used deception and veiled threats to engineer the bomb plot and influence the couple to act on it. She also said the defendants proved themselves to be “marginalized, isolated people who espoused extremist jihadi views” but weren’t motivated or capable of acting on those beliefs.

“I can find no fault with the trial judge’s conclusion that police manufactured the crime that was committed and were the primary actors in its commission,” Justice Elizabeth Bennett said in a 2018 ruling from the B.C. Appeal Court.

Serious harms listed in the legal document include imprisonment, emotional distress, psychiatric injuries, damage to reputation and continued attention from law enforcement. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and costs.

Nathan Muirhead, the lawyer representing the couple, said they have suffered significant psychological harms as a result of the investigation and case that garnered global attention. He said the lawsuit allows them “the chance to tell their story” and its purpose is to ensure the RCMP does not “abuse its power and resources” ever again in the same way.

“What happened to John and Amanda was a travesty of justice. There wouldn’t have been a plot if it weren’t for the actions of the RCMP,” Mr. Muirhead said. “There was psychological coercion [and] logistical support by the RCMP. These were people who were recovering from drug addiction, on welfare, on methadone. They weren’t leaving a small radius around their basement apartment.”

The 22-page notice of civil claim, filed on Monday, goes into great detail about the alleged tactics used by the RCMP to coerce the couple to plant bombs in downtown Victoria on Canada Day in 2013. Mr. Muirhead said the couple was not ready to speak publicly about their experience until now.

The B.C. Ministry of Public Safety, Solicitor General, and federal government said they could not comment on the lawsuit as it is before the courts. The RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit claims officers involved in the sting “came to totally dominate and control” the pair through exploitation of their Islamic beliefs, isolation from friends and family, and by providing money and medication used for substance dependence.

“Officer A (unnamed) provided religious guidance to Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody, purporting to speak with knowledge of the Muslim faith and proffer the guidance of Allah without the proper knowledge, learning or understanding of Islam,” the document states. “The officers [incited] extremist views and fostered the plaintiff’s belief that certain violent action is allowed or encouraged in Islam.”

The undercover investigation, called “Project Souvenir,” was approved in February, 2013, despite a “lack of evidence of any criminal activity or plans to engage in criminal activity,” according to the lawsuit. It is alleged Officer A was not trained properly for the role and only chosen because he was Muslim. He first made contact with the plaintiffs at a gas station they frequented and later “played the role of an Arab businessman” looking for his niece to attract Mr. Nuttall’s attention.

Officer A told them he was a member of a large, international terrorist organization and, throughout the following months, and alongside other officers, urged the pair to devise a plan to engage in terrorism. The plans were largely considered “fanciful and impossible” until the RCMP allegedly helped devise a feasible plan.

It states Mr. Nuttall asked for spiritual guidance multiple times after expressing his view that killing might be prohibited by Islam. Attempts to deradicalize the pair were purportedly not made and eventually the couple felt they had no choice but to “follow the will of Allah.”

In June, 2013, Mr. Nuttall provided Officer A with incomplete hand drawn diagrams of a rocket and homemade explosive device using a pressure cooker copied from al-Qaeda’s online magazine.

No clear plan was formulated until direction was given from police. The couple said they feared for their lives should they not follow through and used money from social assistance to purchase the devices, having available funds because Officer A paid other expenses.

The devices contained trace amounts of C4 and the RCMP reportedly supplied fake detonators. The couple ultimately placed the devices in bushes near the legislature. Officer A then drove them to a hotel where they were arrested. RCMP has said the public was never in danger.

Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody, who live in the Lower Mainland, are unemployed and continue to work on their recovery together.

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