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October 14, 2010

CSIS threatens Imam, his "life would change" if he does not co-operate

Scott Stockdale

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A CSIS investigation which began in 2003, as a national security issue, has resulted in a Toronto area Imam being cleared of child pornography charges.

CSIS agents began targeting Mr. Ayad Mejid in 2003, amid suspicions he had a hand in starting an Internet outfit known as the Global Islamic Media Forum (GIMF). GIMF attracts whose posts can glorify terrorism – not a crime in Canada. However, some GIMF members in Canada and Austria have been recently convicted of plotting terrorist attacks.

At a meeting with CSIS agents, at a Brampton hotel on Oct 16, 2007, Mr. Mejid's agreed to let CSIS agents search his computer. He was told by CSIS agents that the search was to recover his user account and password to access a terrorist website.

But Superior Court Judge Jane Kelly determined that, to this day, that search has never been done, although CSIS has had a copy of Mr. Mejid's hard drive for three years.  

Subsequently, the agents passed Mr. Mejid's computer to Toronto Police, who then charged him with possession of child pornography. 

However, Judge Kelly questioned why CSIS agents looked at the My Documents files on Mr. Mejid's computer – where they found child pornography – when this section of the computer had nothing to do with searching for Mr. Mejid's user account for a terrorist website.

Judge Kelly’s October 6 written decision indicates CSIS spent years targeting Mr. Mejid, convincing him to take a polygraph test, threatening to expose an alleged extramarital affair, and directing law-enforcement agencies to search for porn on his computers. Prior to his handing over his laptop, CSIS agents told him his “life would change” if he did not co-operate.

Unlike police or judges, CSIS agents lack powers to arrest or compel testimony. So the spies use any leverage they can to get people to talk about any potential terrorist attacks.

Moreover, Judge Kelly was sceptical of testimony given by CSIS officer “Witness C,” who discovered pornography on Mr. Mejid's computer.

“It's not a coincidence that “Witness C” found evidence of child pornography on Mr. Mejid's computer within minutes of his analysis.

Without any instruction whatsoever, “Witness C” looked at the pictures on Mr. Mejid's computer first.  This was the same instruction “Witness A” had given to Ms. Raymond before she conducted her search at the border. I believe that “Witness C” was instructed to search for child pornography.”

On Oct 12, 2007, at the request of CSIS officer “Witness A,” CBSA officer Ms. Raymond searched Mr. Mejid's computer at the Niagara Falls border, but she didn't find anything criminal. Consequently, CSIS agents felt they needed someone with more computer expertise to search Mr. Mejid's files.

However, for this search to be legal, Mr. Mejid had to give his informed consent. Judge Kelly ruled that in order for Mr. Mejid to be able to give informed consent, he had to be informed that the search was for a specific purpose and that purpose is not transferable.

As a result, the Judge concluded that Mr Mejid didn't voluntarily turn over his computer to be searched by CSIS agents; rather, he was coerced to do so by CSIS agents' threats.

“Mr. Mejid's failure to object is not consent. I believe Mr. Mejid simply succumbed to pressure of two government agencies when he produced his computer on Oct 12, 2007. He wasn`t advised he could refuse to allow a search so there was not informed consent. The consent was procured through intimidation conduct and threats by CSIS.”

Judge Kelly added that the search was violation of Charter based on evidence before her. “I conclude that the admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

“Witness A” cannot simply throw his hands up and say I am a CSIS agent and I collect intelligence for national security so I don't have to consider the Charter rights of individuals. Obtaining the computer from Mr. Mejid under the guise of national security concerns is a flagrant abuse of Mr. Mejid's Charter rights. The computer was given to CSIS under false pretences.”

Anser Farooq, Mr. Mejid’s lawyer, said his client has always denied links to terrorism or perusing child pornography. “He's said from day one, ‘This was not mine.’ ”

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