TORONTO – A suspected Syrian terrorist who has spent seven years in mostly segregated custody in Canada is claiming that his indefinite detention without charge or trial amounts to cruelty, his lawyer said Sunday.
In a challenge filed in Federal Court on Friday, Hassan Almrei argues that his lengthy incarceration violates his constitutional rights, Toronto lawyer Lorne Waldman told The Canadian Press.
"It's seven years and we're saying it's unconstitutional," Waldman said, speaking from Argentina. "It's cruel and inhumane treatment."
Almrei, who has traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, was arrested in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in America. He is one of five Muslim foreigners held under a national security certificate — which allows the Canadian government to detain them indefinitely as a threat to public safety based on secret evidence.
The other four have been granted bail under stringent conditions while their lawyers fight Ottawa's contention they have terrorist ties. The men, Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat and Adil Charkaoui, deny terrorist links and have fought deportation, saying they will be tortured if returned to their home countries, which include Egypt and Algeria.
Almrei, 34, was linked to former Toronto resident Nabil al-Marabh, for whom he got a fake Canadian passport. Initially touted by American security officials as a Canadian connection to the Sept. 11 attacks, Al-Marabh was convicted in the United States in 2002 of a routine immigration violation and deported to Syria in 2004.
Secret court hearings on whether Canada's national security certificates are "reasonable" are scheduled to resume in the fall amid ongoing legal clashes about the fairness of the entire process.