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Judge strikes down part of Canada's anti-terrorism law

TORONTO &

A judge Tuesday struck down a portion of Canada's anti-terrorism law, ruling that the clause dealing with the definition of terrorism violates the country's bill of rights.

The ruling hands at least a partial victory to terror suspect Mohammed Momin Khawaja, who was the first person charged under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act. The law was passed after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Justice Douglas Rutherford of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice "severed" a clause in the law that deals with ideological, religious or political motivation for illegal acts, but said the case can still go to trial.

Khawaja, a 27-year-old software developer, was arrested in March 2004 and charged with participating in and giving assistance to a terrorist organization based in Britain. His trial is due to start in January.

Khawaja, who remains jailed, had been tied to an alleged Islamic terrorist gang that plotted attacks against Britain's electricity supply network, pubs, nightclubs and trains, according to British prosecutor David Waters. He said Khawaja was an accomplice who carried out a "great deal of preparation" for the gang, whose alleged attacks were foiled in March.

Canadian prosecutors alleged that Khawaja was helping to develop a cell phone detonator and was tied to eight men of Pakistani descent who were arrested in Britain.

Khawaja had been working on contract as a computer software operator for the Foreign Affairs Department, but authorities said he had no access to classified documents.

Last week, an Ontario Superior Court struck down three other sections of the anti-terrorism law in a ruling that threw out warrants used to search the home of a reporter covering U.S. efforts to secretly send a Canadian terror suspect to Syria for interrogation.

The judgment quashed three sections of the so-called leakage provisions of the law that dealt with the unauthorized communication of intelligence by officials who are bound to secrecy.