Top court hears Khawaja's terrorism case

Momin Khawaja. (QMI Agency)

Momin Khawaja. (QMI Agency)

Doug Hempstead, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:59 PM ET

OTTAWA — Lawrence Greenspon is asking the Supreme Court to acquit his high-profile client, convicted terrorist Momin Khawaja.

Greenspon was before seven judges at the Supreme Court Monday, trying to convince them to overturn five terrorism-related convictions and order a new trial — or acquit Khawaja outright.

It will take several months before the court will announce its ruling.

At the very least, Greenspon is seeking a reduction to 12-16 years in prison rather than the life sentence Khawaja is currently serving in Quebec.

Khawaja, 33, a former computer programmer from the city's east end, went on trial in 2006 — the first post-9/11 terrorism trial in Canada. Khawaja was convicted of working with a group of Islamist extremists in Britain who were planning to bomb nightclubs and other busy locations in London in 2004.

Upon appeal, Khawaja's sentence was increased to life with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Monday afternoon, Greenspon argued Khawaja didn't know the extent of the terrorist group's plans and that all he wanted to do was participate in the "armed conflict" in Afghanistan.

But the Crown argued Khawaja knew full well what he was getting into and that the intended result was a jihad against the West. And that Khawaja "can't seriously contend" he didn't know the "objectives extended beyond the conflict in Afghanistan."

Crown attorney Croft Michaelson said Khawaja had no intention of abiding by international humanitarian law and referenced Khawaja's e-mails, which proclaimed love for Osama bin Laden and specifically referenced "private warfare" which was to be played out "outside a battlefield to annihilate an enemy."

The Crown argued this statement proved Khawaja had no intention of abiding by international humanitarian law and knew his group's activities would extend beyond Afghanistan.

Greenspon said if his client had been sentenced after February 2010, when the Truth In Sentencing Act came into effect, he would have received 2-for-1 credit for time served before he was convicted and would be nearly done serving his sentence.

"A life sentence is unfit," he said. "There's no evidence he knew of the group's activity," Greenspon said.

Greenspon also argued the definition of terrorism is unconstitutional because it violates the right to express political and religious views.

Two other related appeals are also being heard from lawyers representing two other Canadian men who don't want to be extradited to the U.S. for suspected involvement with the Tamil Tigers.


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