B.C. man pleads not guilty to four terrorism-related charges
Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, November 14, 2016 3:41PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 14, 2016 6:46PM EST
VANCOUVER -- A British Columbia man charged with four terrorism-related offences over accusations that he posted Islamic State propaganda online was openly passionate about his views, says an RCMP officer who confronted the man about his Internet activity.
Othman Hamdan pleaded not guilty on Monday to encouraging the commission of murder, assault and mischief, all for terrorist purposes. He also pleaded not guilty to inducing and instructing someone to carry out a terrorist act, whether directly or indirectly.
B.C. Supreme Court also heard arguments about whether comments Hamdan made to police officers outside his apartment in November 2014 should be admitted as evidence.
The court heard that Const. Travis Reed and his partner spoke with Hamdan at his home in Fort St. John after police in the northern B.C. town were notified by the RCMP's counter-terrorism unit about online activity believed to be linked to the al-Qaida splinter group ISIL.
Reed told the court that Hamdan was unhappy the police were at his door on Nov. 19, 2014, and the man was vocal about his disdain for the involvement of western countries in the Middle East and the media's coverage of the region.
"He was clearly passionate about what he was thinking about," Reed said. "But he wasn't threatening in any way."
Reed's partner, Const. Dylan Bergmark, described Hamdan's comments as "a rant." He frequently used his hands to emphasize what he was saying, Bergmark told the court.
"He was speaking quite loudly and aggressively but not in a way where I felt we were in danger," the Mountie said.
"It felt like he had something to get off his chest. He was trying to express his feelings and we were there and we represented a target."
Judge Bruce Butler has yet to rule on the Mounties account of their meeting with Hamdan to determine if it will be allowed to be used as evidence against the man at his trial, which is by judge alone.
Hamdan was dressed in a red prison uniform and wore glasses in the prisoner's box. His hair was closely shaved and his beard neatly trimmed.
At various points during the officers' testimony, Hamdan raised his eyebrows and shook his head before scribbling on a yellow legal pad. He occasionally tore off a sheet of paper that was passed to his lawyer.
Both police officers denied they put their hands on their weapons, unholstered their guns, handcuffed Hamdan, prevented him from leaving or threatened him in any way during the encounter.
When defence lawyer Bryan Fitzpatrick asked whether Reed had informed Hamdan that he wasn't required to speak with police, the officer said he hadn't.
"But I asked him at the outset whether he had time to speak with us," Reed added. "I felt it was an understanding."
Hamdan was arrested in Fort St. John in July 2015 for alleged offences dating back to the previous September.
An RCMP statement at the time of his arrest said the propaganda included instructions to kill in the name of jihad.
Pre-trial legal proceedings are expected to last until early December.