CSIS agents cited for slop­pi­ness but man’s com­plaint dis­missed

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - TEVIAH MORO tmoro@thes­pec.com 905-526-3264 | @Te­vi­ahMoro

A civil­ian over­sight body has dis­missed a Hamil­ton res­i­dent’s com­plaint that he was in­tim­i­dated by CSIS agents when they showed up at his door four years ago.

But the Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Re­view Com­mit­tee (SIRC) rec­om­mends the spy agency re­visit its in­ter­view­ing pol­icy, and chides the two agents’ slop­pi­ness with notes.

Ken Stone says he finds “so­lace” and “sat­is­fac­tion” in the SIRC sug­ges­tion that CSIS do a bet­ter job of telling peo­ple in­ter­views with agents are vol­un­tary.

“Thou­sands of Cana­di­ans were made aware of my com­plaint,” Stone said Mon­day. “These peo­ple now know that yes, they don’t have to speak to CSIS if they come knock­ing at your door.”

Stone com­plained to CSIS af­ter the two agents tried to ask him in Jan­uary 2013 about a trip to he took to Iran in Oc­to­ber 2011 and his sub­se­quent op-ed in The Spec­ta­tor.

Stone, a well-known so­cial jus­tice and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist, at­tended a con­fer­ence in Tehran about Pales­tine and penned a col­umn crit­i­cal of the then-Harper gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion on Iran.

Stone al­leged the agents’ visit was an at­tempt to in­tim­i­date him and tram­ple his char­ter right to law­fully ex­press po­lit­i­cal dis­sent. Agents raised the Iran trip and his op-ed dur­ing the visit.

Af­ter CSIS, Stone took his com­plaint to SIRC.

The SIRC re­port, which fol­lows hear­ings held last Septem­ber, dis­misses the re­tired postal worker’s com­plaints of in­tim­i­da­tion and anx­i­ety.

How­ever, af­ter con­sid­er­ing tes­ti­mony, pre­sid­ing mem­ber Gene McLean ex­presses con­cern over the way agents in­form peo­ple in­ter­views are vol­un­tary.

“They only go so far as ask­ing them if they would like to talk to them … They do not ex­plain di­rectly that it is vol­un­tary.”

As such, CSIS should re­view its pol­icy to “clar­ify the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” of em­ploy­ees on the mat­ter.

McLean is also crit­i­cal of one agent for los­ing her op­er­a­tional notes and takes the other to task for not tak­ing notes at all dur­ing the Oc­to­ber 2011 visit.

Stone likens CSIS to the “Key­stone Kops” and says he’s wor­ried that the one agent’s notes with his per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and her ob­ser­va­tions are now “out there.”

Cit­ing an­other con­cern, McLean con­cludes that in a let­ter to Stone, a CSIS of­fi­cial “mis­rep­re­sented” ef­forts to look into his griev­ances. “No such in­quiries were made.”

SIRC makes rec­om­men­da­tions to the min­is­ter of pub­lic safety and to the CSIS di­rec­tor.

Pub­lic Safety Canada, which over­sees CSIS, de­clined to com­ment on the re­port, say­ing the spy agency “would be best placed” to re­spond. CSIS couldn’t im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

Stone praised his Ot­tawa-based lawyer for rep­re­sent­ing him pro bono through­out the process.

They do not ex­plain ... it is vol­un­tary (to speak to them). GENE MCLEAN PRE­SID­ING MEM­BER OF SIRC

JOHN RENNISON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Hamil­ton ac­tivist Ken Stone

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