October 12, 2016 - 5:41 AM
OTTAWA - An appeal court has rejected the federal government's latest legal salvo in a long-standing bid to deport a Toronto man over alleged terrorist ties.
In a new ruling, the Federal Court of Appeal says there are no grounds to contest a judge's decision to strike down a national security certificate against Egyptian-born Mahmoud Jaballah.
"The appeal cannot proceed and I would order that the court file be closed," Justice Johanne Gauthier wrote on behalf of a unanimous court.
As a result, Jaballah, 54, is a step closer to remaining in Canada permanently.
The government alleges the former teacher is a member of terrorist group al-Jihad, an accusation he denies.
It has been trying to deport him through a security certificate — a tool for removing suspected terrorists and spies from abroad — but the case has plodded through the legal system for 17 years.
Security certificates were long the government's tool of choice for dealing with foreign-born terror suspects, but it has proven very difficult to deport several individuals and other cases have fallen apart in court.
Many civil libertarians say certificates are an affront to justice because the subject is given only an unclassified summary of the case — unlike a criminal trial in which there must be full disclosure. However, a special security-cleared lawyer is appointed to protect the interests of the person named in the certificate.
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the process as constitutional.
There was no immediate word on whether the government would appeal the latest ruling.
Jaballah arrived with his family in Canada in 1996 using a false Saudi passport. He sought refugee status on the basis he was wanted by Egyptian authorities on charges of inciting violence and that he would be killed if sent back.
A Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation led to the first of three security certificates being issued against him, the most recent dating from early 2008.
In May, Federal Court Justice Dolores Hansen ruled the government had not established reasonable grounds to believe that Jaballah is a danger to Canadian security.
She also rejected the assertion he was ever a member of al-Jihad or provided support to the group, which advocates violence against the Egyptian government.
The government asked the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn her ruling and uphold the certificate. Failing that, the government said, the case should be sent back to the Federal Court for another look.
Federal lawyers argued that Hansen had made several errors, including reliance on a higher standard of proof than necessary in weighing the evidence. They also said she undermined the rule of law by failing to provide reasons for her April 2014 decision to disallow introduction of additional evidence.
However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the reasons did not fall within the narrow, permissible grounds for appeal.
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016