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Alleged Terror Detainee Cuts His Way To Freedom

A federal court judge has ruled that Mohammad Mahjoub no longer has to wear a GPS tracking device.

Mohammad Mahjoub holds up his GPS tracking anklet after cutting it off in front of a federal courthouse this morning. Photo by Desmond Cole.

Mohammad Mahjoub holds up his GPS tracking anklet after cutting it off in front of a federal courthouse this morning.

This morning, a jubilant Mohammad Mahjoub put his left foot on a flowerbed outside the federal court building at 180 Queen Street West, took a pair of scissors, and cut off the GPS anklet he has worn for over five years. Mahjoub has been detained as an alleged terrorist for over 12 years without charges. Last night, a judge finalized the removal of many of the onerous conditions of Mahjoub’s house arrest, including the GPS device and surveillance equipment in his home.

“This is the end of my story with CSIS [the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service] and the CBSA [the Canadian Border Services Agency,” Mahjoub exclaimed as he snipped the anklet in half. “I’m so happy, thanks be to God!” He thanked Justice Edmond Blanchard, who deemed most the conditions of his house arrest unnecessary earlier this month, and his supporters, some of whom were in attendance at the courthouse. “I thank all Canadians who supported me and gave me hope, from coast to coast to coast,” Mahjoub said.

Mahjoub was first detained in 2000 on his way to work at a convenience store. Since then, his lawyers have been unable to access much of the evidence against him. He spent eight years in prison before being transferred to house arrest in 2007. He came to Canada in 1995 and attained refugee status after fleeing persecution from the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt.

“The government of Canada has taken my freedom without charges, without a trial,” said Mahjoub. “CBSA and CSIS have misled the government of Canada and the court.” He now awaits a decision from a federal court on the validity of the security certificate used to detain him. His lawyers expect a ruling in the coming months.

Photo by Desmond Cole/Torontoist.

Comments

  • HotDang

    So what did he do that was grounds for the detention and gps tracking? Surely being on the way to a convenience store doesn’t qualify you as a potential terrorist. Did he send money overseas or something?

    • Desmond Cole

      Thank you for the question. The government can issue a security certificate and detain a non-citizen in Canada indefinitely for “security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality or organized criminality.” Since the government is not required to charge Mahjoub or bring him to trial, the specific reasons for its actions are unknown.

      The allegations against Mahjoub have been presented at secret proceedings, which even his lawyers are barred from attending. The government has suggested that he is an “islamic terrorist” with ties to Osama bin Laden. The government has also admitted that some of its evidence to this end may have been obtained through the torture of people in Egypt.

      If Mahjoub had been put on trial during the last 12+ years, we might know more about the government’s reasons for detaining him. As it stands, we know very little.

      Holding a man for so long without charges or a trial seems to violate fundamental principles of our justice system.

  • dsmithhfx

    Be interesting to know how many million $$$ the CSIS has tossed down the shitter over this. But we never will. National security and all.

  • tomwest

    Either charge him and put him on trial, or release him.