June, 2003

Announcement from Homes not Bombs and the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada:


Come to Court:

Support the Right to Bail and Due Process for Hassan Almrei, a CSIS "Secret Trial" Security Certificate Target who Has Been In Solitary Confinement since October, 2001 (full details below)

Tuesday, June 24, 9:30 am

Courthouse, 361 University Ave (just north of Queen), Court 7-2


The hearing is likely to take the better part of the week, so if you cannot make it on Tuesday but can make it other days, come on down. Call ahead at (416) 651-5800 to confirm.

****NOTE: Attempts are currently underway to raise both cash bail (in the amount of $10,000) and $50,000 surety bail (persons who own property such as a house, car, land, etc. who would be willing to use that property as collateral to get Almrei released pending ongoing court action. You don't have to stand for the whole $50,000, but can say you would provide $10,000 or $15,000 worth of surety in conjunction with others who would make the numbers add up. It would help, if you are willing to be a surety, that you can say you know and/or are in regular contact with Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs, who would be responsible for ensuring Hassan adheres to his bail conditions. Please contact tasc@web.ca or (416) 651-5800 if you can help with bail and/or surety.


In the past 20 months, Hassan Almrei has been out of solitary confinement for a total of three days. For the rest of the time, the 29-year-old from Syria, who was granted refugee status following his 1999 arrival in Canada, has been locked in the hole for 23 hours a day. He has never been charged, nor convicted, of any offence anywhere in the world. He is not "wanted" for extradition by any government.

But like fellow Muslims Mahmoud Jaballah (held since August 2001), Muhammad Mahjoub (held since June, 2000), Mohamed Harkat (held since December 10, 2002) and now Adil Charkaoui (held since May), Almrei has been targetted by the CSIS secret trial security certificate. Neither he nor his lawyer, Barbara Jackman, is allowed to know the substance of the alleged evidence and, as has been the case with his fellow long-term detainees, Amnesty International has concluded Almrei's life is at risk if deported from Canada.

(Earlier this year, an Algerian refugee in Montreal, Mourad Ikhlef, was deported under the secret trial security certificate. He disappeared immediately upon landing in Algeria, and it is unclear whether he is still alive).

Almrei, who was working to get a pita business running, was picked up in the RCMP/CSIS sweeps of the Arabic and Middle Eastern communities after September 11, 2001.

In the public summary of allegations which CSIS has to disclose, it is claimed that Almrei is a threat based on his past involvement in the honey business in Saudi Arabia. CSIS says the bin Laden network funnels funds through honey businesses, so Almrei COULD be associated with support for terrorism. (Of course, by the same token, the makers of Billy Bee Honey in Canada COULD also be secretly up to no good, but they are not Muslim, and thus not likely to be surveilled by CSIS. Or to extend the logic, anyone who owns a Harley COULD be associated with the Hell's Angels. You see how it goes...).

As with other security certificate cases, it's all about guilt by alleged association, and a Federal Court judge (who must be approved by CSIS) is not bound to ensure that facts are confirmed, only that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that such facts could possibly be true.

The other allegation CSIS has made is that Almrei was associated with Nabil Al-Marabh, who post-9/11 was deemed a major terrorist in banner North American headlines. The fact that Almrei readily admitted to CSIS that he knew Al-Marabh socially was seen as by the judge who upheld the certificate as crucial to the case.

Yet a year later, after Almrei's certificate was upheld, anyone who reads the tiny follow-up articles that sometimes report the truth would have found that Al Marabh was not in fact the "terrorist threat" he was made out to be, and instead he was quickly convicted of a minor immigration infraction and deported from the U.S. to Syria, where his liberty, indeed his life, is in question. The fact that Al-Marabh was not who he was made out to be should call into question the decision of the judge who upheld the certificate against Almrei.

Almrei's lawyer Barbara Jackman also notes that Almrei was not accorded due process because the court refused Almrei's right to testify "in camera" -- behind closed doors, in the presence of his lawyer -- about sensitive details which, if disclosed publicly, could endanger his life if deported, or endanger loved ones in Syria. Jackman has been denied access to Almrei on numerous occasions, and his whole judicial ordeal has also included attempts by Immigration Canada to close his deportation hearing to the public.

In a September 9, 2002 Toronto Star article, reporter John Duncanson notes that "Their [Almrei and al-Marabh's) families, lawyers and civil libertarians say these men are innocent -- guilty of simply being in police crosshairs as security agents scrambled to round up suspects following 9/11 to placate a public who believed the country was being overrun by Al Qaeda terrorists. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has built cases against men like al-Marabh, often in sealed court documents, or, as their critics charge, through strategic leaks to the media.

CSIS alleged [Almrei] was "a member of an international network of extremist groups and individuals, who follow and support the Islamic extremist ideals espoused by Osama bin Laden," court documents show.

Poppycock, says Jackman.

"They believe he's a terrorist because he would rather meet with friends for a coffee than talk on the phone," Jackman said.

Jackman said anything that someone does to makes CSIS suspicious is automatically cited as terrorism. For example, CSIS supported its claim against her client by providing a federal judge with images taken from his computer, including pictures of bin Laden.

"They were pictures he downloaded from the Internet, off of news sites. That's a crime?" Jackman asks.

She said CSIS is a "bunch of cowboys" who are eager to flex their muscles after Sept. 11. "CSIS didn't want to be left out. In a perverse way, they want us to have problems here."

For more information, or to help with bail, contact Homes not Bombs at PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0 (416) 651-5800, tasc@web.ca


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