Charkaoui supporters call for public inquiry

MONTREAL — A Montreal man who has been fighting for years to clear himself of suspected terrorist ties says he couldn’t believe his eyes when a front-page newspaper headline accused of him of plotting to blow up a plane.

MONTREAL — A Montreal man who has been fighting for years to clear himself of suspected terrorist ties says he couldn’t believe his eyes when a front-page newspaper headline accused of him of plotting to blow up a plane.

Adil Charkaoui says he was “beside himself” with anger at the story last week, which cited a secret intelligence document that alleged he discussed attacking the plane with Abousfian Abdelrazik in 2000.

Charkaoui’s supporters are now calling for a public inquiry into why the CSIS report was leaked to Montreal’s La Presse. They say they have reason to believe high-ranking government officials are behind its release.

In his first public comments since the allegations surfaced, Charkaoui bemoaned what he called a “disgusting” smear campaign against him.

Charkaoui believes the leak was a deliberate attempt to influence his ongoing civil case against the government and he’s upset that the media would decide to use it in a story.

He is suing Ottawa for $24.5 million in damages after having spent more than six years under suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, including 21 months spent in jail.

Charkaoui recently won a Federal Court case forcing the government to reveal more information about his situation. He says his lawyers received blank pages in return.

“Then four or five days later they leak a document to La Presse,” Charkaoui said in an interview. “It’s really incredible. It’s not something you would say happens in Canada. It’s Mozambique or Zimbabwe…

“I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Both Charkaoui and Abdelrazik have spent years fighting accusations that they are terrorists. Charkaoui has successfully challenged a security certificate against him. Abdelrazik has also been cleared of being a security threat — although he is still seeking to have his name removed from the United Nations terror blacklist.

It is not the first time La Presse has reported on allegations against Charkaoui based on secret CSIS documents that came into its possession.

A similar story appeared in 2007 that claimed Charkaoui had discussed using an airliner in a terrorist attack and had trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

That leak was the subject of an RCMP investigation, the results of which have never been made public. CSIS also launched its own inquiry into the matter.

Charkaoui won a Federal Court challenge against La Presse in 2008, which ordered the paper to reveal the identity of the source who provided the document. That information was given to the court in a sealed envelope, pending appeal.

In delivering his ruling, Judge Simon Noel said at the time that “the greater public interest demands that the truth be told as to the origin of the leak of a secret document.”

Calls to La Presse editors were not returned Wednesday. It is unclear whether the newspaper would co-operate with a public inquiry into the recent leak.

Charkaoui’s supporters say such an inquiry is needed to understand how and why secret CSIS documents about Charkaoui keep getting leaked.

“We want a public inquiry into who is responsible for this leak and what the motivations were behind it,” the Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui said in a news release Wednesday.

“There are certain … indications that lead us to believe that high ranking officials may have been directly involved in this leak.”

A coalition spokeswoman declined to provide precise details about what led it to conclude that high-ranking officials leaked the document. But she promised to release more information in the weeks ahead.

“We’re deciding in what context (it) should be made public,” said the coalition’s Mary Foster.

His supporters also blasted Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who responded to the La Presse story last week by saying “people should be patient and thoughtful and give the government and its agencies the benefit of the doubt.”

Kenney went on to say that groups supporting Charkaoui and Abdelrazik should “think very carefully about this.”

The coalition representing Charkaoui said Kenney should be more concerned with the source of an illegal leak than with scoring political points off the document.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read