Terror suspect wages court fight for info in bid to stave off deportation
Published Tuesday, July 14, 2020 4:17AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, July 14, 2020 4:20AM EDT
Mohamed Mahjoub stands outside a federal court in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2011. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- A terrorism suspect is waging a new court fight against the federal government for information he says he needs to mount a full argument against deportation to his native Egypt and possible torture.
It is just the latest twist in Mohamed Mahjoub's two-decade legal odyssey.
The government is trying to remove Mahjoub, 60, using a national security certificate, claiming he was a high-ranking member of a terrorist organization.
Security certificates are rarely used federal tools for removing foreign nationals suspected of links to terrorist activity or espionage.
Mahjoub, married with three children, came to Canada in 1995 and attained refugee status.
He once worked as deputy general manager of a farm project in Sudan run by Osama bin Laden, who would later spearhead the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Mahjoub was arrested under a security certificate in June 2000 after being interviewed by Canada's spy agency on six occasions between August 1997 and March 1999. Each time, he denied any involvement in extremism.
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the certificate regime as unconstitutional, but the government revamped the process and issued a new certificate against Mahjoub in 2009. It has subsequently been affirmed by the courts.
In January, federal officials gave Mahjoub the results of two assessments -- one examining the nature and severity of his acts, the other looking at the risks he might face upon removal from Canada.
A designated government official will review the assessments in deciding whether Mahjoub should be deported.
But before that happens, Mahjoub wants to see all the information underpinning the assessments.
Last month the Canada Border Services Agency told Mahjoub and his lawyers it would not disclose "any of the requested documents or provide any further information," says his recent filing in the Federal Court of Canada.
The information is important because, if deported, Mahjoub would be sent to Egypt, "a country where he is likely to face persecution, torture and possible death," the filing says.
The severity of the potential consequences mean Mahjoub is entitled to see "all relevant information," whether the government intends to rely on it or not, given the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness, his submission says.
In addition, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires the government to disclose any information related to proceedings that have potentially severe effects on Mahjoub's life, liberty and security, it adds.
Mahjoub wants the court to prohibit the immigration minister and his delegate from issuing an opinion on his deportation until the information has been disclosed and he has had a chance to make submissions on it.
The government has yet to file a response to Mahjoub's arguments.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.