The Federal Court of Canada has rejected Ottawa terror suspect Mohamed Harkat’s request for a government-funded lawyer as he battles extradition to his native Algeria.
In a recent ruling, Federal Court Judge Sylvie Roussel said Harkat failed to establish that he was unable to afford a lawyer, or that he had exhausted attempts to find one willing to take his case for a reduced or nominal fee.
“The right to counsel of choice is not an absolute right, and the onus rested with Mr. Harkat to put his best foot forward,” Roussel said.
Harkat wanted Toronto lawyer Barbara Jackman, one of the country’s foremost legal experts on security certificates, to represent him as he fights extradition. But Roussel said Harkat will have to find someone else.
“I am not persuaded that Mr. Harkat can only obtain a fair hearing with Ms. Jackman representing him,” she said.
Harkat faces an extradition order issued under Canada’s security certificate regime, a powerful and rarely used instrument of Canada’s immigration law. It allows the federal government to detain foreign-born terror suspects indefinitely, to present evidence in secret against them, and to send them back to countries where they could be tortured.