Former Pakistani spyshown the door

Adrian Humphreys, National Post · Mar. 24, 2011 | Last Updated: Mar. 24, 2011 4:04 AM ET

A Pakistani intelligence agent who worked in Pakistan against “the menace of terrorism” cannot live in Canada because his work has been deemed espionage by the courts, even though he likely did the same work as a CSIS agent.

In upholding the immigration decision this week, the Federal Court of Canada noted that although it is a lawful distinction, it may be a hypocritical one.

Danish Haroon Peer has been fighting to move to Canada since 2004, sponsored by his Canadian wife. They were married in Pakistan in 2002 and have three Canadian-born children. He is now living in Dubai.

When Mr. Peer applied for residency in Canada, he disclosed his employment with several of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, including the Corps of Military Intelligence (CMI) and its Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) from 1995 to 2004. Canada’s High Commission in Islamabad flagged that as a possible source of inadmissibility.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act does not allow people who have engaged in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government status in Canada.

Mr. Peer told officials of his domestic intelligence gathering activities “directed towards protecting Pakistan’s armed forces personnel and nation in general from the menace of terrorism.”

But in notes produced afterwards by Canadian officials, a visa officer said Mr. Peer admitted gathering intelligence information on Indian, Israeli and U.S. intelligence services present in Pakistan. The brief also said Mr. Peer mentioned Canada when discussing his work against “hostile governments and intelligence agencies.”

His application for permanent residency status was refused.

When rejecting the application a visa officer stated that “both institutions are involved in intelligence and counterintelligence activities that target the intelligence agencies and governments of other countries, including Canada.”

Mr. Peer appealed the decision, saying what he did was no different from any other legitimate intelligence service of Canada or other Western democracy. He said it was not espionage, but rather legal and accepted domestic intelligence gathering to protect his country’s citizens.

“The applicant relies on the doctrine of equivalency for the proposition that if his activities are no different than the lawful activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Canada then they should not constitute espionage,” court documents say.

Even so, his claim was refused.

The government argued that it is a semantic distinction between “intelligence gathering” and “espionage.”

“How CSIS conducts its activities in Canada, and what it is authorized to do, is entirely irrelevant to interpreting Parliament’s intention in drafting the inadmissibility provisions found within the [Immigration and Refugee Protection] Act,” wrote Justice Russel W. Zinn in his decision, that was upheld this week in the Federal Court of Appeal.

“Perhaps it is hypocritical for Parliament to permit CSIS to undertake certain activities and then determine that a foreigner who does the same thing in his own country is inadmissible to Canada, or there may be valid reasons for denying admission to foreign intelligence agents (retired or otherwise) who swear oaths of secrecy and allegiance to other countries and then seek permanent residence in Canada.”

The Federal Court of Canada ruled that “‘espionage’ does not have to have an illicit outcome as its goal.”

The appeals court agreed that a person can be deemed inadmissible to Canada for espionage even if the activities consist of intelligence-gathering activities that are legal in the country where they take place, do not violate international law and where there is no evidence of hostile intent against the persons who are being observed.

Mr. Peer’s appeal was dismissed. His only hope for coming to Canada now is to appeal to the Minister of Immigration directly.

His lawyers did not return phone calls yesterday.



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