B.C. man ac­quit­ted of ter­ror charges sues pro­vin­cial, fed­eral gov­ern­ments

The Prince George Citizen - - Local -

VAN­COU­VER — A Bri­tish Columbia man ac­quit­ted of ter­ror­ism-re­lated charges has filed a law­suit against the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments, ar­gu­ing he was ma­li­ciously pros­e­cuted in vi­o­la­tion of his char­ter rights.

Oth­man Ham­dan was charged in 2015 over 85 Face­book posts in which he sup­ported some ac­tions of Is­lamic State mil­i­tants and cel­e­brated “lone wolf” ter­ror­ists. Last year, a B.C. judge ruled his com­ments might have been of­fen­sive, but they didn’t con­sti­tute in­cit­ing ter­ror­ism.

Ham­dan has filed a law­suit that ar­gues Cana­dian and B.C. au­thor­i­ties pros­e­cuted him de­spite the ab­sence of prob­a­ble grounds sup­port­ing his guilt and chose to ig­nore a body of ev­i­dence that sup­ported his in­no­cence.

“The con­duct of the de­fen­dants was reck­less, in­ten­tional, de­lib­er­ate, in dis­re­gard of the plain­tiff’s rights, in­dif­fer­ent to the con­se­quences and ex­ploited the plain­tiff’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity,” says the no­tice of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Ham­dan, 35, is a Jor­da­nian na­tional of Pales­tinian de­scent who came to B.C. af­ter liv­ing in the United States and was granted refugee sta­tus fol­low­ing the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. He has been de­tained pend­ing the re­sults of an im­mi­gra­tion re­view.

At the time of his ar­rest, he was liv­ing in the north­ern com­mu­nity of Fort St. John. The Face­book posts were writ­ten be­tween Septem­ber 2014 and July 2015, with one read­ing, “Lone wolves, we salute you.”

In ac­quit­ting Ham­dan, B.C. Supreme Court Jus­tice Bruce But­ler wrote that he “was try­ing to high­light what he per­ceived to be hypocrisy and in­jus­tice, sup­port some of the ac­tions of (the Is­lamic State) in its de­fence of Sunni Mus­lims in Iraq and Syria and pro­mote dis­cus­sion about these is­sues.”

Ham­dan says in his no­tice of civil claim that he only learned dur­ing trial that the sole ev­i­dence be­ing pre­sented against him was the on­line posts, which he says are con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected speech and “woe­fully in­ad­e­quate ev­i­dence to se­cure a con­vic­tion.”

None of the al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the law­suit has been proven and no state­ments of de­fence have been filed.

Ham­dan al­leges the Crown never pre­sented the full body of ev­i­dence in their pos­ses­sion – hun­dreds, if not thou­sands of posts – but sim­ply chose par­tic­u­lar posts which fit their the­ory of the case.

“The only pur­pose of the plain­tiff’s in­car­cer­a­tion has been to dis­rupt him from hav­ing ac­cess to a com­puter to voice con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected speech, in vi­o­la­tion of his char­ter rights,” says the law­suit.

Ham­dan says he re­mains “un­law­fully” in­car­cer­ated and has suf­fered dam­ages in­clud­ing loss of lib­erty, rep­u­ta­tion, pri­vacy and op­por­tu­nity to earn in­come, as well as hu­mil­i­a­tion, pain and suf­fer­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.