Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Minister Says No Way of Knowing If Certificate Info Came from Torture

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Minister Says No Way of Knowing If Certificate Info Came from Torture

Article excerpt

Info in terror case may be from torture: Day

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TORONTO - A former federal cabinet minister told an Ontario court Thursday he had been warned that there was no way of knowing whether information in a national security certificate used to arrest accused terrorist Mohamed Mahjoub was obtained through torture.

Former public safety minister Stockwell Day said he signed five security certificates in late February 2008 -- including Mahjoub's -- after reviewing a "voluminous" amount of documents and "numerous" discussions with both intelligence and border officials.

Testifying by videolink from Vancouver, Day said he was confident in the information even though the former head the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had given him a memo stating it was "difficult, if not impossible" to determine the source of the information, particularly because some of it had come from countries with a reputation of using torture.

"I was satisfied with all of the information before me to date," he told a Federal Court judge in Toronto.

"The security certificate needed to be signed for ongoing restraint on Mr. Mahjoub, for the protection of Canadians."

The federal government is trying to deport the Egyptian-born man using a national security certificate -- a rarely used immigration tool for removing non-Canadians considered a risk to the country.

It claims that Mahjoub, 52, was a high-ranking member of an Islamic terrorist organization with links to Osama Bin Laden.

It also alleges the father of three falsified documents when he first arrived in Canada as a refugee in 1995.

He was interviewed by CSIS on six occasions between August 1997 and March 1999, each time denying any involvement in Islamic extremism.

Mahjoub was arrested in June 2000 based on secret evidence but CSIS had to start over after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled seven years later that the certificate process was unconstitutional.

For the past 12 years, he has been either detained or placed under strict house arrest despite not being charged with a crime.

During hours-long cross-examination by one of Mahjoub's lawyers, Yaver Hameed, Day frequently replied "I can't recall. …

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