Canadian intelligence agency admits withholding evidence in terrorism case

Hassan Almrei

Hassan Almrei

Less than a month after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was found to have omitted polygraph evidence in an alleged terrorism case, the scandal-prone agency has admitted even worse shortcomings in a second investigation. Specifically, it has acknowledged that it “failed to disclose evidence” in the case of Hassan Almrei, a Syrian immigrant who was arrested in Canada in 2001 on suspicion of belonging to an Islamist-tied forgery group. Almrei was the first terrorism suspect to be arrested under Canada’s security certificate provision, which allows the government to use secret evidence in order to detain and deport foreigners living in Canada and deemed dangerous for national security. Security certificates prevent even the suspects themselves from being exposed to the secret evidence against them. But Canadian Federal Judge Justice Richard Mosley, who presides over Almrei’s case, wrote a letter last week to Almrei’s lawyers, in which he disclosed that CSIS investigators failed to inform the court that a key government informant testifying against Almrei was “deceptive” in responding to queries, and that another informant was so unreliable he was ordered to undergo a lie-detector examination. CSIS has now confirmed Justice Mosley’s allegations, calling the shortcomings “inexcusable”, and has ordered an internal enquiry into all security certificate investigations. Meanwhile, lawyers for Hassan Almrei, who was imprisoned by Canadian authorities for seven years without trial, and remains under house arrest in Mississauga, Ontario, have called for an independent investigation by a non-CSIS panel.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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