March 26, 2013

Interview with a security certificate defendant

People's Voices' Saleh Waziruddin recently interviewed Mohammed Mahjoub, the "security certificate" detainee who was finally freed from having to wear a GPS bracelet. Mohammed Mahjoub, a refugee from Egypt, was arrested in 2000, without being charged with a crime or given access to evidence against him. Mahjoub has been on a speaking tour about his case after being released from having to wear a GPS. He claims he has found evidence that Canada has spent over $1 billion on all security certificate cases, and that CSIS had used criminal records of five people with his name in Egypt who were convicted of various crimes to confuse the justice system.

     Although cleared of any charges in Egypt, Mahjoub has been unable to find out why he was arrested in Canada, other than the possibility that another security certificate arrestee, unknown to him, may have mentioned his name in a phone call. His house arrest conditions were so onerous and invasive that he initially went back to prison on his own, and his wife divorced him in 2011 when he was going to be released back into house arrest. His defense committee's website is

People's Voice: What would you say to someone who thinks what happened to you could never happen to them?

Mahjoub: I have never thought it will happen to me, but it happened.  It can happen to anybody here in Canada. My advice to them is: don't take everything granted forever. It happened to me today, it can happen to anyone else, especially minority people.

What have you found was most effective for the victories you've won in your struggle, such as being free from the GPS bracelet?
     The most thing effective in my case is speaking out, raising my voice, sharing my story with Canadians. Find other Canadians who have hope in their life to assist you.

What are things people in Canada can do to help win justice for you?

     They can do a lot of things. They can share the story in the internet, they can write to their MPs, they can share this information with human rights organizations. There are many, many things they can do, not only one thing. (They) can make events such as what happened today for instance here in St. Catharines.

What changed in your opinion about Canada after your experience?

     Again, the law is (supposed to) apply to every individual, whether they are citizen or non‑citizen. If someone commits a crime, he or she should face a fair trial, but in the security certificate cases there are no charges laid on me or any other security certificate individual. We didn't have a fair trial in the first place. We have to fight hard. Why there is (such a situation in) Canada? I am not angry, but I have to fight hard to clear my name. The individual who put me in this position, should be held accountable for what they did to me and my family as well.

Do you have advice to anyone facing a similar situation?

     My advice to them (is) to be patient, to fight through legal avenues, not do anything to make their case more miserable or more difficult. There are many ways to fight through the law, to hire a good lawyer to speak out, to have contacts with organizations (which) can raise your voice. They can share your story with other organizations - human rights groups, parliament, media.

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