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Adil Charkaoui is Free

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Adil Charkaoui

ctvmontreal.ca

Six years after the federal government declared him a terrorist and severely restricted his freedom of movement, Adil Charkaoui is a free man.

On Thursday a federal court revoked his security certificate, and lifted all the other restrictions on Charkaoui.

He celebrated the decision by cutting off the electronic leash he's been forced to wear for years.

"Six years of deprivation of freedom, two years in jail, four years with this bracelet and draconian conditions," said Charkaoui.

Charkaoui, 36, a permanent Canadian resident from Morocco, was arrested in Montreal in May 2003 as an alleged al-Qaida sleeper agent prepared to wage terror attacks against western targets.

He has spent the past six years in prison, under house arrest, or under GPS surveillance, despite continual denials of any involvement in terrorism.

His mother Latifah, who has frequently had to accompany Charkaoui every time he left the house, is ecstatic that her son is finally free.

"For me, this is like the day I gave birth," she said.

Thursday's decision comes after the federal government withdrew evidence against Charkaoui, saying that its disclosure would threaten national security.

The disputed material was apparently gathered through secret interceptions, informants and foreign sources, all of which the government is leery of exposing.

The government admits the remaining evidence does not meet the burden of proof to support a national security certificate.

Next mission

Charkaoui was never charged with anything.

He was red-flagged because of his acquaintances and travels in the 90s.

With his newfound freedom, Charkaoui wants to clear his name, and resist the government's efforts to have him deported.

"I'm celebrating with my family, my supporters, my lawyers, and I hope we are going to change the policies post 9/11," said Charkaoui.

Lawyer Lucie Joncas is now laying the groundwork to sue the government.

"We believe it's wrong to have a secret trial, and we don't think this is a valid way of protecting society," said Joncas.

Thursday's decision comes one day after the Federal Court eased restrictions on Ottawa resident Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian immigrant living under onerous house-arrest conditions.

Three other men, Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub and Hassan Almrei, are all fighting to remain in Canada after security certificates have created a threat of deportation.