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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.

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter


 

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