Terror suspect, and acquaintance of Abu Zabaydah, on trail in Canada:
There still remain two stories about the life of Mohamed Harkat.
One account is written by Canadian security agents, who describe the 36-year-old Algerian refugee as a supporter of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist organization, sent to Canada as a sleeper agent.
The other story, told this week to a federal court by Harkat himself, is of a hard-working refugee drawn to Ottawa by the freedom Canada promised.
A four-day court hearing that wrapped up yesterday, added little to these two versions of Harkat's history. Justice department lawyer James Mathieson spent less than 90 minutes yesterday cross-examining Harkat on the more than five hours of testimony he had given a day earlier.
There was no evidence given publicly by government lawyers to support the vague allegations contained in a 40-page brief written by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service when Harkat was arrested in December, 2002.
"I would have thought they had more things to deal with him on (during the cross-examination) to suggest he wasn't telling the truth," Paul Copeland, one of Harkat's lawyers, said outside the court.
On Wednesday, Harkat admitted he lied to CSIS agents when they interviewed him before his arrest, denying knowing a friend in Ottawa and using a nickname. He testified he was scared and believed agents had the wrong person. But government lawyers yesterday did not challenge his denial of having met Abu Zabaydah, an accused top-ranking Al Qaeda member, or knowing a now-deceased Canadian Al Qaeda member any more familiarly than having once shared a car ride with him.
Two federal ministers signed a national security certificate seeking Harkat's deportation, on the grounds he poses a risk to the country's security. If Justice Eleanor Dawson upholds that certificate as reasonable then he could be deported to Algeria, where Harkat says he will be tortured or killed.