The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the national security certificate against terror suspect Mohamed Harkat, opening the door to the next step in deporting him.
The high court also rejected Harkat's constitutional challenge of the security certificate regime, unanimously ruling the process is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Harkat, 45, says he could face torture if returned to his native Algeria, raising questions about how, when — or even if — he will be removed from Canada.
Harkat, a former pizza delivery man, was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent — an accusation he denies.
The federal government is trying to deport the Algerian refugee on a security certificate — a seldom-used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism.
Harkat's lawyers argued the process was unfair because the person named in a certificate doesn't see the full case against them.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the security certificate regime does not violate the person's right to know and challenge the allegations they face. However, the high court provided detailed guidance on applying the process to ensure it is fair.
The Supreme Court concluded that Harkat "benefited from a fair process" when the Federal Court of Canada reviewed his case, meaning the certificate against him stands.
Harkat lives quietly in the national capital with wife Sophie and denies any involvement in terrorism. Last year federal border agents removed an electronic tracking bracelet from his ankle. Harkat was also given more freedom to travel but was prohibited from leaving the country and ordered to check in with authorities regularly.
There have been numerous legal twists and turns in Harkat's path-breaking case.
In 2007, the Supreme Court struck down the security certificate regime, declaring it unconstitutional.
The federal government issued a revised certificate in Harkat's case in 2008 after the secretive process was overhauled to bring it in line with constitutional guarantees.
In revamping the security certificate system, the government introduced special advocates — lawyers with access to secret material who serve as watchdogs and test federal evidence against the person singled out in the certificate.
Two other men — Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohamed Mahjoub, both originally from Egypt — could face removal from Canada in long-running certificate cases.