Terrorist says stripping citizenship violates his right to vote

Hiva Alizadeh, sentenced to 24 years in prison, is latest to challenge provisions allowing government to revoke citizenship for those convicted of terrorism

These artist's sketches shows (left to right) Misbahuddin Ahmed, Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh and Khurram Syed Sher, in Ottawa on September 1, 2010. An undercover source working for Canada's spy agency and sensitive intelligence from the United States and Britain helped build the case against three terrorism suspects facing criminal charges, court documents indicate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tammy Hoy

An artist’s sketch of Hiva Alizadeh made during a court appearance in Ottawa on September 1, 2010. (Tammy Hoy/CP)

OTTAWA – An Ottawa man jailed for his part in a terrorist conspiracy says a federal move to strip him of Canadian citizenship violates several constitutional guarantees, including his right to vote.

Hiva Alizadeh is the latest to challenge new provisions that allow the government to revoke citizenship from someone convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage — as long as they hold nationality in another country.

In an application to the Federal Court of Canada, the Iranian-born man says the provisions breach the principles of fundamental justice enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He also argues taking away his citizenship would improperly deny him the right to vote and prevent him from freely entering and remaining in Canada.

Alizadeh, 36, was sentenced to 24 years in prison upon pleading guilty last year to possessing explosives with intent to do harm.

The custodian and part-time student was arrested in August 2010 along with two other men. Police seized terrorist literature, videos and manuals along with dozens of electronic circuit boards — devices designed to detonate homemade bombs remotely.

The federal Conservatives argue terrorism is a crime so grave that perpetrators are unworthy of holding citizenship. Critics say stripping someone’s right to be a citizen is akin to the medieval practice of banishment.

Alizadeh’s lawyer, Leo Russomanno, said Wednesday his client was “pretty devastated” by the decision to revoke his citizenship, seeing as he took full responsibility for his crime the day he was sentenced. “He gave an impassioned and heartfelt expression of remorse to the court.”

Alizadeh is now effectively being punished twice for the same crime, which is unconstitutional, Russomanno contends.

“Mr. Alizadeh agreed to accept the Crown’s offer for 24 years, which is no small sentence. And now they seem to be piling on with this, and it doesn’t seem very fair.”

Alizadeh could face deportation to Iran, a country where he faced persecution as an ethnic Kurd before attaining refugee status in Canada.

His case will proceed in tandem with those of several other convicted terrorists challenging the citizenship revocation provisions.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and Asad Ansari, who was convicted for his role in a 2006 bomb plot, are spearheading the process.

Misbahuddin Ahmed, found guilty of conspiring with Alizadeh, is among those contesting the provisions.

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Terrorist says stripping citizenship violates his right to vote

  1. What is wrong with “banishment”?

    Didn’t he know right from wrong? In his own country he would have been executed.

    No doubt, he will request parole for ‘good behaviour’! And, then, re-apply for refugee status.

    Enough already.

    • Well, one problem is that it only applies to a subset of Canadians – those with, or able to have, another citizenship; and this can result in unequal treatment. So, if Alizadeh had had a co-conspirator who had only Canadian citizenship, we’d have seen the two men receive very unequal punishment in that the co-conspirator would retain his Canadian citizenship and thus be able to continue living in Canada once his sentence was served, whereas Alizadeh would lose his Canadian citizenship and be deported to Iran.

      Look, as far as I’m concerned people convicted of genuine terrorism (or conspiracy thereof) can be locked up and have the key thrown away. However, reason dictates that a person’s sentence should not be contingent on an arbitrary trait that has nothing whatsoever to do with the crime they committed.

      • Unfortunately, Jim, I doubt your ability to provide a list of criminals who have died in jail, or a list of criminals who should have died in jail but were let out for ‘good behaviour’. Before you mention ‘rehabilitation’, give some thought to the victim’s families who are still grieving.

        Life is not easy and loss of life is less easy.

  2. As a Muslim I agree with the Canadian government’s stance on this issue. Terrorists do not belong in Canada and we should do everything to stop their breeding. Most Muslim Canadians that I know, respect the Canadian law as the ultimate law, follow rules and regulations as everyone else, are proud to be Canadians. Most importantly, they’re indebted to the Canadian people who put the policies in place to allow them to live a just, happy, opportunist life here in Canada. Terrorists are using Islam as a veil to cover their heinous propaganda to destabilize countries. However, the ultimate price is paid by those Muslims who for 10-15-20-25-30 years have not been a threat to this great nation. They’ve worked hard, voted, raised families, are educated and have been an integral part of the everyday Canadian life.

    My only issue with this policy is that the definition of being labelled a terrorist could be “subjective” in different context to suit the needs of the politicians. I haven’t heard anything so far to indicate that but if it does happen, it will make the entire system unjust.

    The best thing to do is to lock them away in a “terrorist-only” jail and throw away the keys. That’s a Muslim’s stance on this.

    • @sly mcfly – It is satisfying to read that you respect Canadian law as the ultimate law but, although this statement is made by most Muslims in Canada, I shall not be completely satisfied until I hear Muslims in this country (especially those who have given an oath as Canadians) that they are totally against any version of Sharia law in this country (including the illegal and secret aspects of this law in Muslim communities).

      Some argue that Sharia law is required by all who believe in Islam and, until this belief is banned by Muslim imams, those who believe in this law should return to a Muslim country of their choice … of which there are many.

      Where are the media managers who should send their journalists out to obtain answers to these questions. Muslim men are much too silent on this matter.

  3. Choosing specifically to come to a western foreign far away country and swearing an oath of citizenship and loyalty to a country and then violating that oath by racially targeting its citizens or destroying and attacking it out of hatred is a definite violation of that oath….he broke his sworn oath and Canada has no obligation to him and every right to remove this threat to us.

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