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Terror Suspect Gets Lighter Bail Conditions

Federal Court judge and lawyers for all parties have approved lighter bail conditions for terror suspect Mohamed Harkat, but some issues remain in the case.

A new federal risk assessment concluded that Harkat’s high public profile has rendered him less dangerous.

Supporters applauded and Harkat and wife Sophie wept as Justice Simon Noel read the news in court on Monday.

A smiling Harkat said he planned to celebrate his new freedom by taking his 10-year-old niece on a long-promised outing.

“I’m feeling good,” he said following the brief hearing. “It’s a step to clear my name.”

The list of bail conditions on the former pizza delivery man and gas station attendant has been reduced to three pages from 10, but defence lawyers are seeking more freedoms for their client.

Justice Simon Noel said there will be no more surveillance cameras in Harkat’s Ottawa home, no need to approve visitors and no further interception of mail and phone calls.

However, once the conditions are signed, Harkat will still have to wear a monitoring bracelet on his ankle and will be restricted to using telephone landlines in his home.

He can travel unsupervised only in the Ottawa area and his passport remains in trust with federal agents.

It was expected the new conditions could kick in as early as Monday.

Norm Boxall, a lawyer for Harkat, said the defence still takes issue with conditions including the travel restrictions and ban on cell phone use.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service alleges Harkat collaborated with al-Qaida – a claim he denies.

The government has been trying to deport Harkat under a national security certificate, a rarely used immigration provision, since his December 2002 arrest.

In June, a federal judge ruled that Canadian border agents violated Harkat’s rights by carrying out an “excessively intrusive” search of his home.

The Canada Border Services Agency was ordered to return everything it took in the May 12 raid and to destroy any copies it made of the seized information.

Sophie Harkat welcomed the new bail conditions as “a huge change” for the couple.

“The surveillance has been unbearable,” she said Monday. “Since the raid at our house, I haven’t been the same person. It’s been totally life-changing.

“My husband wears a bracelet around his ankle, but I felt like I’ve been wearing a bracelet around my neck the whole time.”