Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lawyer's Suspicions Spy Agency Listened to Client Calls Proven Right

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lawyer's Suspicions Spy Agency Listened to Client Calls Proven Right

Article excerpt

Spy agency listened in on lawyer-client calls

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TORONTO - A lawyer who represented two men branded as threats to national security said Wednesday he was stunned to discover confirmation of his long-held suspicions that government agents had listened in on his phone calls with his clients.

Federal lawyers had heaped scorn on him when he first raised the issue a decade ago, Rocco Galati said, and it was only recently he learned he'd been right all along.

"I couldn't believe the degree to which the judicial process had been corrupted," Galati told The Canadian Press outside Federal Court.

"The most offensive part of it was being ridiculed by government lawyers pretending that I was on some wild speculation," he said.

From March 1999 to the end of 2003, the Toronto lawyer acted for two Egyptians slapped separately with national security certificates: Mohamed Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah.

The government deemed the men terrorist threats, with much of its case based on secret evidence they were not allowed to see.

A dozen years later, both men -- in prison or under house arrest despite facing no charges in Canada -- are still fighting to have their certificates quashed.

In 2008, Canada's spy agency admitted listening in on Mahjoub's calls with his lawyers, but only as a way to monitor his bail conditions, one of which included his consent to having his phone tapped.

The revelation prompted outrage from his lawyers, who said Mahjoub had never intended to waive solicitor-client privilege -- considered judicially sacrosanct. A judge quickly ordered an end to the practice.

Mahjoub's current lawyers have since gained access to information that shows the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Canada Border Services Agency had been intercepting communications between him and his lawyers, including Galati, from the get-go.

"When you intercept a lawyer's communications with his clients, you might as well get rid of the judiciary because then the judiciary is no longer independent," Galati said. …

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