MONTREAL — After years of having Ottawa monitor his every movement, an alleged al-Qaida sympathizer dramatically removed the tracking bracelet on his ankle Thursday and became a free man following a court ruling in his favour.
A Federal Court judge dismissed the remaining court-ordered conditions against Adil Charkaoui, including one that had forced him to wear the GPS tracking bracelet since February 2005.
Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer also let it be known the security certificate against the Moroccan man will be quashed in the near future.
Charkaoui is a landed immigrant who was arrested in Montreal in 2003 under security-certificate legislation that allows Canada to expel foreign-born individuals if they are considered a national security risk.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service still contends its information is accurate and that the school teacher and part-time graduate student is an al-Qaida sympathizer who should be sent back to his North African homeland.
Charkaoui, a married father of three who has steadfastly denied any links to the terrorist group, was decidedly ebullient Thursday.
“I was waiting for this day since 2003,” Charkaoui said outside the courthouse after Tremblay-Lamer’s ruling.
“Six years of deprivation of freedom, two years in jail, four years with this bracelet and very draconian conditions before.”
Reporters were hoping to see the bracelet, but Charkaoui originally did not want to cut it “because I don’t want to damage government property.”
“I want to give them back their pretty gift,” he scoffed.
But later in the day, he did indeed remove the electronic shackle with great flourish.
Many of the conditions originally imposed on Charkaoui had already been removed in February, when the judge ruled some of the restrictions had become disproportionate given the number of years that had passed since he first faced terrorist allegations.
While Tremblay-Lamer still has to hear various legal arguments, one of Charkaoui’s lawyers expressed hope a final decision to nullify the certificate could come as early as next week.
“The court confirmed that the certificate will be quashed so it means he will be free of any allegations against him, any accusations against him,” lawyer Johanne Doyon said outside the courthouse.
“He will be like you and me: free.”
Charkaoui’s victory is the latest setback for Ottawa in its case against him.
The federal evidence was severely weakened when Ottawa’s lawyers withdrew evidence about him earlier this summer, saying disclosing such information would endanger national security.