Coalition renews Call for inquiry into Actions of CSIS in Charkaoui case
Montreal, 23 January 2007 — The Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui deplores the attack on Mr. Charkaoui’s reputation in an article by Graeme Hamilton which appeared in the National Post today under a sensationalist headline. This attack follows the publication of other defamatory allegations against Mr. Charkaoui this past June in the Montreal newspaper La Presse, after the criminal leak of a secret, CSIS-sourced document. The Coalition repeats its call for a government inquiry into the actions of CSIS in Charkaoui’s case (http://www.adilinfo.org/?q=en/node/69).
The National Post article is based on a public summary of an alleged interview with Mr. Charkaoui in 2001 which was disclosed last week to the Federal Court in a secret hearing. The interview was not provided to the Ministers who signed Mr. Charkaoui’s certificate, nor previously to the Federal Court. The timing of this belated disclosure, almost seven years after the interview apparently took place, raises serious questions. It recalls a similar incident in January 2005, when CSIS suddenly released a one-paragraph summary of two other previously undisclosed interviews on the eve of a bail hearing.
In this case, the assault on Mr. Charkaoui’s credibility comes just one week before a Supreme Court hearing into bias in Mr. Charkaoui’s case and into the fact that CSIS destroyed secret evidence in Mr. Charkaoui’s file. It was revealed in Federal Court in January 2005 that CSIS destroyed the records of other interviews with Mr. Charkaoui. The destruction of interview records means that the Court only has access to secret summaries prepared by CSIS: de-contextualized, selective and possibly false. The Supreme Court hearing will take place on Thursday, 31 January in Ottawa.
Mr. Charkaoui vehemently reiterates that he is not, and has never been, a terrorist or a member of any terrorist network. He also categorically denies making claims against any other members of the Muslim community which would connect them to any such activities. Once more, he challenges CSIS and the government to come up with any evidence whatsoever that can stand up in a court of law, such as records of full interviews rather than biased summaries.
The Coalition calls upon all journalists and media outlets who are acting in the public interest to recall the findings of the Arar Commission and to question the motivation of security agencies in releasing such information.
The Coalition also begs journalists to exercise caution in deploying politically-charged, imprecise terms such as “extremist” and “terrorist suspect”, which can and do cause material damage to the lives and reputation of individuals and Muslim communities.
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