TORONTO: An Egyptian father of six detained as a suspected terrorist for five years without charge or trial began his third quest for bail, with a former Canadian hostage in Iraq speaking out in his defense.
Lawyers for Mahmoud Jaballah argued Monday that even if he was considered dangerous, he should be released on stringent conditions. Paul Copeland referred to an extensive list of bail conditions imposed on Mohamed Harkat, another terrorism suspect ordered released in June.
Similar conditions could apply to Jaballah, Copeland told Federal Court.
I am willing to accept any conditions that will allow me to be close my children, Jaballah, 43, told Justice Carol Layden-Stevenson. They need their father to be with them.
Jaballah is contesting his designation as a national security risk based on evidence that he has not been allowed to see. He also maintains that if he is sent back to Egypt, he would be tortured or killed.
If my client is released from custody, it may be the last time in his life he gets to spend time with his family, said Copeland.
Christian peace activist James Loney, who spent four months as a hostage in Iraq before being freed by British special forces in March, showed up at the courthouse to express solidarity with Jaballah.
You cannot indefinitely deprive a person of their freedom on the pretext that they may be a threat, Loney, 41, said outside court.
Loney has pledged to put up $250 Canadian in cash and another $750 as part of a total $124,000 bond proposed by friends and family for Jaballah.
Loney said he was touched when Jaballah and two other suspected terrorists detained in Canada had written an open letter to his kidnappers, pleading for their safe release.
Jaballah, who testified via video link from his eastern Ontario detention facility, said he co-wrote the letter because he felt a kinship with Loney and the other hostages.
If they were Muslims who believed in Islam, they had no right to kidnap innocent people, Jaballah testified.
In cross-examination, prosecutor Donald MacIntosh said Jaballah s seven arrests in Egypt between 1981 and 1991, when he spent a total of more than 3 1/2 years in custody, showed he must have been a pretty important person. Jaballah, who has denied any links to terror groups, is one of five Arab Muslim men under arrest on so-called security certificates. Two of the men have been released on bail and the Supreme Court of Canada recently heard arguments condemning the detentions as unconstitutional.
Jaballah arrived in Canada in 1996 and worked as principal of an Islamic school he founded. He was arrested in August 2001 when Canadian authorities asserted he has ties to Al-Qaeda and was a member of the Egyptian terrorist group Al-Jihad. He was tortured in Egypt on several occasions for those alleged ties, but never charged or convicted of any crime.