POLITICS
02/16/2012 01:26 EST | Updated 04/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Security certificate opponents rally around Harkat as he heads to court

OTTAWA - Opponents of Canada's security certificate regime are rallying around Mohamed Harkat as he heads to court to try to scuttle the controversial deportation tool.

Harkat, a former pizza delivery man in Ottawa, faces removal to his native Algeria under a security certificate that declares him a threat to Canada due to alleged terrorist links. He denies any involvement with political extremism.

Opponents say the security certificate system is fundamentally unfair because detainees are not given full details of the allegations against them.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the system five years ago, saying it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But the government revamped the process and reissued certificates against Harkat and others in early 2008.

A judge ruled in late 2010 that the retooled certificate system was constitutional — a decision Harkat will challenge next week in the Federal Court of Appeal.

Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada argued at a news conference Thursday the federal government failed to do a proper overhaul to ensure fairness.

"Instead they tinkered," he said. "And the tinkering did not address the serious shortcomings."

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the certificates represent an affront to all Canadians, not just Harkat.

"Today it's him, tomorrow it could be you."

Harkat was arrested more than nine years ago on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

Though allowed to live at home with his wife, he continues to wear an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, must check in with authorities weekly and cannot leave town without permission.