Freed Syrian refugee is a $575,000 man – Monitoring Hassan Almrei in Mississauga townhouse a costly process
NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER
For two hours each day, Hassan Almrei sits tethered to an electrical outlet as he charges the clunky GPS bracelet permanently affixed to his right ankle. He can’t let it run out of juice, or the security agents responsible for tracking him will come running.
Almrei also logs the time and name of his pre-screened visitors with Pavlovian efficiency as soon as he hears a knock on the door. Three ceiling cameras watch his every move, windows have alarms, his phone is tapped and one room is occupied by a black box the size of a small fridge, which emits a high-pitched hum and is described only as a “component (that) is required to monitor Mr. Almrei in his home,” by a Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson.
This is life inside a three-storey Mississauga townhouse where the 35-year-old Syrian refugee moved following his release Friday after seven years in jail.
It will cost about $575,000 a year to pay for the agents’ salaries and the “operations and management” of the electronic equipment, agency spokesperson Tracie LeBlanc says. But, notes Mike Larsen, a researcher at York University’s Centre for International Security Studies, there may be other costs, such as wiretap analysis done by Canada’s spy service. Then there are the surveillance notes, videos and pictures that need to be analyzed by separate agency agents.
“This remains indefinite detention … it is still the imposition of control and the deprivation of liberty without charge or trial,” says Larsen, who has filed dozens of Access to Information requests to the federal government about the immigration law, and who is a friend of Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa man who likewise was imprisoned under a national security certificate.
“The real costs are less tangible, and they are measured not in dollars spent but in the indignities inflicted on Mr. Almrei.”
The costs – to taxpayers and Almrei – are likely to continue for some time.
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/yz7yyuz