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Canada court convicts first suspect charged under new anti-terrorism law

[JURIST] Ontario Superior Court [official website] Justice Douglas Rutherford Wednesday convicted [reasons for judgment, PDF] Ottawa software developer Mohammed Momin Khawaja [CBC backgrounder] on seven counts related to an alleged plot to bomb targets in the UK. Khawaja was specifically accused of designing a remote detonator and providing other support to a group that was last year convicted [JURIST report] of planning to detonate a large fertilizer bomb. Although Rutherford indicated Khawja may not have known about the terrorist plot, he was found guilty of participating in a terrorist group, instructing a person to finance terrorism, making property available to terrorists, contributing to a terrorist group, and facilitating terrorism under Canada's controversial Anti-Terrorism Act [text; CBC backgrounder]. He was cleared of two other terrorism charges related to his intent to aid in a specific act of terrorism, but was convicted on related criminal charges for possession of and intent to use explosives. Khawja is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18 and faces up to 25 years in prison. The Globe and Mail has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

In June, Khawaja pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges and his lawyer said the allegations were exaggerated and based on hearsay evidence that should have been excluded. Last year, Canadian Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley refused to require the release of confidential evidence [ruling, PDF; summary, PDF; JURIST report] against Khawaja, explaining that "disclosure of most of the information would be injurious to national security or to international relations." Khawaja was arrested [JURIST report] in March 2004, and was the first person to be charged and tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

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