National News

Deportation a death sentence: Harkat

By Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Terror suspect Mohamed Harkat has a grim request if the Canadian government sends him back to his native Algeria: send a casket along with him.

That's how sure Harkat is that he'll be tortured and killed if he's deported.

Harkat's dire message came a day after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the national security certificate against him, unanimously ruling the process is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The 45-year-old former pizza delivery man says he's certain to face torture and death if returned to Algeria, given the high-profile accusations against him.

"The ultimate goal of (Wednesday), it's shattered. That's all 12 years of waiting for the highest court in the land to give me a fair and open trial to defend myself," Harkat told a news conference on Parliament Hill.

"So basically, what's left now is the government of Canada wants to send me to Algeria. You'll have to send me with a box. They're going to torture me and bury me in it."

Indeed, Harkat is running out of options in his long legal saga.

Harkat was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent — an accusation he denies.

The federal government is trying to deport the Algerian refugee on a security certificate — a seldom-used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Harkat's lawyers argued the process was unfair because the person named in a certificate doesn't see the full case against them.

Harkat's wife, Sophie, said she and her husband feel betrayed by their country. They cried themselves to sleep Wednesday night, she said.

"I had such faith in the justice system, but all that has changed."

Both Harkat and his wife wept during the news conference as they spoke about the prospect of deportation.

Because Harkat is a refugee, the federal border agency cannot deport him unless the immigration minister issues a "danger opinion" declaring him a danger to the Canadian public or Canada's security.

In addition, the agency says anyone to be removed from Canada "is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to judicial scrutiny."

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