2011-05-21 Updates from defense attorney Dennis Edney regarding Moazzam Begg flight refusal, Abdullah Khadr and the Toronto 18 trials

Canadian defense attorney Dennis Edney is involved in four of the cases we are currently covering. WL Central has received updates from him on three of them.

Moazzam Begg, a high profile advocate for Guantanamo inmates and international lecturer and author, was denied board on a direct Air Canada flight from London to Toronto on the grounds that the plane could possibly be diverted to the US where Begg is on a no-fly list. Begg, a British citizen, was imprisoned in Guantanamo for three years and released in 2005 with no charge. Edney had invited him to Canada to speak.

You were attempting to get him a flight over the north pole to avoid the excuse of a possible diversion into US air space – has there been any response from the Canadian authorities on that?

We have attempted to get clarification from Canadian authorities to state whether they would challenge his entry if he took a flight over Greenland so no fear of being close to U.S. airspace – with no clarification.

Who exactly have you spoken to in the Canadian government or Air Canada regarding this policy?

We have spoken to people at the Canadian High Commission and I have asked Moazzam to go to the London office to get an official response why he was not allowed to fly.

He was to attend 3 conferences in Toronto/ Montreal and Edmonton.

Abdullah Khadr, older brother of Omar, won against the Canadian government’s appeal on May 6. The Canadian government was arguing in support of the US government who are trying to extradite Abdullah based on testimony obtained under torture. Edney represents both Khadrs.

Has there been any word on whether the federal government will be taking this case to the Supreme Court? Has the Canadian government brought charges against Abdullah on their own or indicated whether they have plans to?

No. They have 60 days to appeal.

Mubin Shaikh, Crown star witness who testified in the Toronto 18 trials, was included on a list of names provided to the US as being associated with terrorism according to a recently released US state cable from Wikileaks. “It was his evidence that took them all down,” Edney told CBC. “Most of the warrants for wiretaps that were obtained were obtained as a result of conversations he had with the suspects.” Edney represents Fahim Ahmad, one of the Toronto 18 currently serving a prison sentence.

What are the legal implications of his submission as a terrorism suspect to the US? Does this damage his credibility as a key Crown witness, and if so, what are the possible consequences for the verdicts relying on his testimony? Will you be filing a complaint for the defense in this case?

There are many questions arises from a CSIS agent who was provided to the RCMP as a central witness against the Toronto 18 when they viewed him as so undeniable to warn the U.S. about him.

The prosecution had the obligation to provide the defense of this concern. I will be asking for the information provided to the US to determine to what extent if at all it would impact on any appeal.

2011-05-20 Moazzam Begg refused board on Air Canada #cdnpoli

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Moazzam Begg, a British citizen who was held at Guantanamo Bay for three years with no charge, was barred from boarding an Air Canada flight to Toronto today. Omar Khadr’s defense attorney, Dennis Edney, had invited Begg to speak at a conference on fear and justice in Toronto on Saturday as well as other events in Quebec and Edmonton later this week.

The Canadian Press reports that the Canadian High Commission refused permission on the basis the plane could be re-routed to the U.S. Edney contacted the high commission and was told to contact the US embassy. Edney told theToronto Star that a Canadian foreign affairs official informed him that Begg was denied entry due to a “U.S. policy.”

Begg was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2005 and is one of the most high profile advocates for the people currently imprisoned there. He wrote a book, Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey To Guantanamo and Back (ISBN 0-7432-8567-0), is a director ofCageprisoners, and has given many interviews and lectures, written articles, and appeared as a commentator on BBC’s Panorama, BBC’s Newsnight, PBS’s The Prisoner, Al-Jazeera’s Prisoner, Taking Liberties, Torturing Democracy, and National Geographic’s Guantanamo’s Secrets, traveling throughout the world to do so. He has never been charged with anything. He was released by the US.

“I’m being invited to a conference with lawyers, and it’s about community relations, so it would seem odd not to allow me in,” Begg told the Toronto Star. “But I guess it’s North America and North America is different from the rest of the world when it comes to these issues.”