Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Court orders return of items seized in Harkat raid

OTTAWA — A federal judge says Canadian border agents violated the constitutional rights of terror suspect Mohamed Harkat by carrying out "an excessively intrusive" search of his home.

Federal Court Justice Simon Noel ordered the Canada Border Services Agency to return everything it took in the May 12 raid. He also told the agency to destroy any copies it made of the seized information.

"The breach of Mr. Harkat's Charter rights was significant," Noel wrote in a judgment released Tuesday.

"This court cannot condone the type of intrusive search undertaken by the CBSA. Mr. Harkat may have a diminished expectation of privacy, but that does not give the state a 'carte blanche' to unreasonably intrude on what privacy is left to him."

Sixteen border service and police officers, accompanied by three sniffer dogs, spent six hours searching Harkat's house from top to bottom in a surprise raid they said was permitted under the terms of his bail.

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