[JURIST] The Federal Court of Canada [official website] refused a request by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) [official website] for warrants allowing it to conduct overseas electronic surveillance on 10 individuals, including 9 Canadians or Canadian immigrants, in a ruling [summary, PDF] made public Friday. Mr. Justice Edmond Blanchard [official profile] denied the warrants, saying the court did not possess the jurisdiction to authorize CSIS to conduct investigations outside Canada under either CSIS's governing act or customary international law. A CSIS spokesperson quoted by the Toronto Globe & Mail said the warrants were for the specific purpose of conducting telecommunications intercepts, not searches or something similar. The spokesman also said the ruling was not binding on CSIS as other federal agencies had endorsed its international operations. CSIS has said it will not appeal.
The ruling is particularly important to CSIS because it has been arguing in recent years for greater control over spying operations overseas. Last year, Blanchard approved warrants [redacted judgment, part I; redacted judgment, part II] which allowed CSIS to search and eavesdrop on the 10 individuals while in Canada. But CSIS wanted to take the warrants further to clarify its position on international surveillance and to protect itself under Canadian law, where it might be accused of infringing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or even the Canadian Criminal Code. The Canadian Communications Security Establishment [official website] is authorized under Canadian law to monitor international communications but cannot eavesdrop on Canadians, either domestically or abroad. The Globe & Mail has more.