Al-Qaeda suspect to ask for return to prison. Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub will turn himself in, saying life under house arrest since 2007 has put strain on family
Globe and Mail
March 17, 2009 at 9:12 PM EDT
TORONTO – An Egyptian man accused of links to al-Qaeda plans to turn himself in to be returned to jail on Wednesday morning, with his wife saying she will no longer serve as his supervisor.
Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, a “security-certificate” detainee living under house arrest, waged a protracted legal campaign to be freed from jail while locked up from 2000 to 2007. But now Mr. Mahjoub says he hopes to return to prison. He will ask federal officials to send him back when he goes to a Mississauga office at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday.
Since his release two years ago, Mr. Mahjoub has spoken out about how the terms of his strict house arrest – including constant surveillance by federal agents – is so difficult on his wife and young children that it is actually worse than jail.
On Tuesday, however, he had nothing to say at all. “Actually I’m not willing to speak to you or anybody else,” he said when called at his home. “As I said to you, I’m not willing to speak.”
On March 9, he failed to convince a judge to greatly relax his release conditions, which includes stipulations that he be accompanied by immediate family members.
In similar national security cases, damaging intelligence concerning the lives of other detainees has recently been revealed in Federal Court, including certain personal details. No such summaries have been released as yet in the Mahjoub case.
“There is nothing new on the public record,” Federal Court spokesman Andrew Baumberg said on Tuesday.
Mr. Mahjoub came to Canada seeking refugee status in the 1990s. Federal agencies immediately fingered him as a high-level threat, given his admission that he was once directly employed by Osama bin Laden to run a large farming operation in the Sudan.
An investigation by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service led federal cabinet ministers to sign off on jailing him pending deportation to Egypt, a fate Mr. Mahjoub has successfully staved off since he was arrested in 2000.
A terse note from defence lawyers was added Tuesday to the court file. “We have been instructed to inform the court that [wife] Mona El Fouli, a surety and supervisor of Mr. Mahjoub, and [adult stepson] Haney El Fouli … are no longer prepared to act in this capacity,” the letter says.
The letter gives no explanations but adds that they will no longer waive their privacy rights. “We are informed they will withdraw all consents … to various previously authorized interceptions” by federal agents.
As for Mr. Mahjoub, the lawyers noted they have been talking to Canada Border Services Agency officials to arrange Mr. Mahjoub’s surrender. The CBSA had no immediate comment on the matter.
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