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ALF Press Officer Court Update

by omni Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002 at 8:02 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The spokesman for a radical animal rights group asked a judge to throw out a search warrant that allowed Canada's anti-terrorism squad to raid his house on behalf of U.S. authorities. David Barbarash, spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, claims the July raid on his Vancouver Island home by nine members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team amounted to harassment.

Dear friends,

It's not often I find myself sitting in court and actually enjoying the

proceedings, but this is exactly how I felt yesterday morning listening to

the arguments from both sides on the validity of the RCMP search warrant.

The session took the full morning, with my lawyer first making some

arguments on the disconnect between how an article from 1999 is connected

to me in BC in 2002. Although the arguments at times were kind of bizarre,

like "how does the Barbarash mentioned in the article equal the Barbarash

in Courtenay, BC?", they needed to be made to show that the Information to

Obtain the Search Warrant was fundamentally flawed in these areas. We have

a system of justice that must follow certain rules in order to be fair and

to not infringe on our Charter rights, and a major diversion from these

standards or omittance of critical information is not acceptable to the

courts.

Our main arguments focussed essentially on the reliability of basing a

search warrant on a newspaper clipping, which amounted to double hearsay

evidence. The Judge, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was noticeably

shaking her head in the affirmative and agreeing with most everything my

lawyer said.

The government lawyer was, in a word, a joke. He seemed to be reading

scripted arguments and stumbled over many words in his droning monotone

voice. It seemed obvious to me that he was not the author, he was simply

reading what someone in a higher authority gave him to read. I could be

wrong, but this is how it appeared.

He tried in vain to say that there was nothing wrong with the search

warrant, that it had all the necesary components and validation needed,

but even the judge was incredulous and basically repeated our own

questions directly to the prosecution, trying desperately to understand

how a newspaper article was sufficient evidence. The government lawyer's

response was bizarre: the U.S. authorities gave us this evidence therefor

we must accept it as all that is required. And, since the article

corroborates factual incidents (the ALF attacks) then it could be seen as

reliable.

Justice Bennett asked him where was the press release on which the article

was based? Why wasn't that included in the Information? She asked him why

the Information was lacking in so much essential detail, and why we should

make inferances as to certain points which were not clearly spelled out,

to which he could not really reply to other than, "it's from the U.S. and

we must trust them." In the AP article below he asserts that to question

the U.S. would be tantamount to questioning their trustworthiness! I say

that if we do not question the U.S. then we might as well give up any

notion of national sovereignty we might have!

At the end of the hearing the government lawyer suggested two things if

the search warrant is quashed - 1) that they may file a sending

application in any event to see if they could still send my property to

the U.S. and, 2) they may seek to issue another, corrected, search

warrant, in order to retain possession of my belongings. I don't really

understand how that wouldn't be an incredible abuse of judicial process,

but we'll wait and see.

Justice Bennett reserved her decision until next week. I remain

*extremely* optimistic, and will let you all know the outcome as soon as I

hear it.

Thanks once again for all your support and words of solidarity, and thank

you to those who supported me by showing up to court.

David Barbarash

-----

Associated Press Newswires

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Spokesman for group accused of eco-terrorism challenges police raid in

court

By JEREMY HAINSWORTH

Associated Press Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The spokesman for a radical animal

rights group asked a judge to throw out a search warrant that allowed

Canada's anti-terrorism squad to raid his house on behalf of U.S.

authorities.

David Barbarash, spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, claims

the July raid on his Vancouver Island home by nine members of the Royal

Canadian Mounted Police's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team

amounted to harassment.

The anti-terrorism squad seized two computers, computer disks,

videotapes, photos and files from the home of Barbarash, who issues

statements on behalf of the ALF. He is seeking the return of his

property.

The ALF and its sister organization - the Earth Liberation Front -

are accused by the FBI of being eco-terrorist groups that have caused

US million in damage in more than 600 attacks, ranging from

spray-painting buildings and breaking windows to firebombing fur farms,

research centers and a ski resort.

The ALF and the ELF deny they are terrorist groups, saying their aim

is to liberate animals or protect the environment, not to harm anyone.

Barbarash's lawyer, Michael Klein, told the court Wednesday that

there was insufficient evidence for a warrant under Canada's Charter of

Rights and Freedoms. The raid was based on one newspaper article that

quoted Barbarash as spokesman for the ALF, along with an interview with

the reporter who wrote the article, Klein said.

Government lawyer Matthew Williams argued the Canadian squad was

obligated to carry out the raid under a mutual legal assistance treaty

with the United States. Failing to act on information provided by U.S.

authorities would amount to an "attack on the trustworthiness" of the

United States, he said.

"Such an attack should not be entered into lightly without evidence

of misconduct," Williams told British Columbia Supreme Court Justice

Elizabeth Bennett.

Bennett said she would rule on the case next week.

Barbarash said he gets anonymous information about ALF activities and

passes it on to the news media. "I don't know who takes part in these

activities," he said.



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