Extradition hearing underway for man facing terrorism charges
EDMONTON — A police audio recording suggests a man facing extradition to the United States on terrorism charges was so calm when armed RCMP officers arrested him that he joked with officers about being on Candid Camera.
Sayfildin Tahir Sharif is accused of supporting a terrorist group that took part in a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2009 that killed five American soldiers.
At his extradition hearing Monday, the Crown played a recording of a Jan. 19, 2011, police raid in which Sgt. James Greene can be heard reading Sharif the arrest warrant numerous times.
“You are under arrest for soliciting terrorist activity contrary to the Criminal Code,” says Greene, who testified Sharif was handcuffed on the floor while armed Mounties searched other rooms of the Edmonton apartment for potential danger.
Greene then can be heard clearly advising Sharif of his rights to remain silent and to speak with a lawyer.
Sharif, who lived in the apartment with his common-law wife and her children, never raises his voice or expresses any alarm during his arrest.
“What does that have to do with me? I don’t understand,” he says quietly on the recording. “What do you mean call a lawyer?”
The first day of the extradition hearing focused on the admissibility of evidence from RCMP officers who arrested Sharif at the request of the FBI.
The voir dire is not subject to any publication ban.
The U.S. charges include conspiring to kill Americans aboard.
Sharif, an ethnic Kurd, was born in Iraq but moved to Toronto as a refugee in 1993 and became a Canadian citizen in 1997.
The FBI says he has also gone by several other names, including Faruq Khalil Muhammad’isa and Tahir Sharif Sayfildin.
Sharif has been held at the Edmonton Remand Centre since his arrest.
He sat quietly in court Monday as he followed the proceedings with the aid of an Arabic language interpreter.
During the 20-minute-long arrest, Greene keeps advising Sharif of why he is being arrested and his rights under the law.
Sharif was changing from a bathrobe into street clothes as he was being told this, Greene testified.
On the recording, Greene also specifically advises Sharif that he faces terrorism charges in the United States.
Sharif appears to remain unruffled.
“You guys sure you are not making a mistake?” he asks RCMP.
“One hundred per cent not making a mistake. You are Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, are you? We haven’t made a mistake. You are presently under arrest for those offences.”
“It is not what they call Candid Camera? the suspect says, referring to an old television show.
“Not Candid Camera. Afraid not,” Greene replies.
The Edmonton Journal reported that Sharif said earlier this year in a court affidavit that the terrorist allegations against him came from people who were tortured by American investigators.
His lawyer, Bob Aloneissi, argued that should preclude such evidence from being used against Sharif.
Justice Adam Germain of Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench said the claims of torture were hearsay and ruled against Sharif.