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Canada court rules security services may monitor citizens' communications abroad

[JURIST] The Canadian Federal Court [official website] released a decision Tuesday ruling [judgment, PDF] that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service [official website] may monitor the communications of Canadian citizens abroad. The case arose from two Canadian nationals who had their communications abroad monitored after a judge issued an emergency warrant permitting the interception. Judge Richard Mosley, who also issued the emergency warrant, wrote:

Canada has given [the Communications Security Establishment] a mandate to collect foreign intelligence including information from communications and information technology systems and networks abroad. It is restricted as a matter of legislative policy from directing its activities against Canadians or any person within Canada, but it is not constrained from providing assistance to security and law enforcement agencies acting under lawful authority such as a judicial warrant. CSIS is authorized to collect threat-related information about Canadian persons and others and, as discussed above, is not subject to a territorial limitation.

Neither the names of the men nor the country in which they were monitored have been released [Canwest report].

The Federal Court ruled in 2008 that intelligence services may not monitor the calls [JURIST report] of suspected terrorists to their lawyers. The issue arose in the case of Mohammad Mahjoub, an Egyptian detainee suspected of ties to al Qaeda who had been held since 2000. Mahjoub was released on bail [CBC report] in April 2007. Leading up to his release, he agreed to have his phone calls monitored so authorities could ensure he was not a threat to national security, but his lawyers did not realize that phone calls between them and their client would be intercepted.

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