Strict release conditions need to continue for an Egyptian man the federal government has long branded as a potentially dangerous terrorist, a Federal Court judge has ruled.
In rejecting a request from Mohamed Mahjoub to have most conditions lifted, Judge Henry Brown ruled the terms were necessary to ensure public safety.
"No one suggests (he) is currently engaged in activities dangerous to Canadians," Brown said in his decision. "However, his previous active and material support for terrorists – including Mr. (Osama) bin Laden, al-Qaida and others – are facts that lead me to find that his danger is serious."
Mahjoub, 57, who has steadfastly denied any terror ties, came to Toronto in December 1995 and was granted refugee status almost a year later. However, he was slapped with a national-security certificate and arrested in June 2000, in part based on secret evidence supplied by foreign agencies linked to torture.
The federal government has wanted to deport him for years, but he argues he faces a substantial torture risk if sent to Egypt and so he has remained in a limbo that his many efforts have failed to change.
Mahjoub was released in 2007 under conditions he found so onerous – among them almost constant surveillance – that he opted to go back to prison. He was released again in 2009 under conditions the courts eased substantially in 2013 and again in July last year.
While the Federal Court of Appeal continues to deliberate whether his designation as a terrorist threat is reasonable, Mahjoub wanted all but the most basic conditions imposed on his release lifted given his view that there was "no proven danger" justifying the terms now in effect.
Current conditions include surveillance by security agents of his home and outings and reporting every two weeks to Canada Border Services Agency.
The government objected. Among other things, it cited his alleged membership in the Egyptian terror group Vanguards of Conquest, and the fact that he once ran a bin Laden farm in Sudan. The government also maintained that Mahjoub lied about his terrorist ties and has refused to denounce violent jihad.
Brown sided with the government in upholding the release terms but did clarify some conditions. For one thing, Mahjoub must set his computer to ensure its cache is kept permanently – effectively retaining a digital record of all websites he visits.
"Neither manual nor automatic deletions may be made at any time," Brown ruled.
The judge also said Mahjoub is allowed to have and use a cell phone but may not use it to access the internet.
The court also rejected his previous requests to visit gun stores, shooting clubs or internet cafes.
Overall, Brown ruled, the various restrictions are "proportionate and reasonable" in the circumstances that remain unchanged from a year ago when the terms were last eased.
"I wish to emphasize that they also take into account that CSIS no longer considers the applicant a threat to national security," Brown said. "(But) here remains a need to prevent the applicant from acquiring or reacquiring terrorist contacts; he had them in the past and has not since disavowed them or their aims and objectives."
The Federal Court of Appeal has yet to rule on whether to halt proceedings against Mahjoub. He argued in December the government has violated his rights and that the case against him is so error-riddled that it should be tossed as an abuse.