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RCMP terrorism sting must be condemned: lawyer

VANCOUVER – Illegal police tactics during an undercover operation that led a couple to be found guilty of terrorism-related offences endanger public rights, shock the conscience of Canadians and must be strongly condemned, says a statement of defence filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

John Nuttall and his common-law wife Amanda Korody were found guilty last year, but their convictions are on hold while their lawyers argue the RCMP entrapped their clients into planting what they believed were pressure-cooker bombs at the B.C. legislature.

The Mounties used “deceit and tricks” throughout the elaborate sting, read the statement of defence.

Nuttall’s lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, told the court Tuesday that police aided and abetted terrorist activity by helping the couple design, construct and transport the homemade explosives.

“It matters not that the RCMP knew the devices would not explode,” she said. “The RCMP knowingly facilitated terrorist activity.”

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Nuttall and Korody were arrested in July 2013 after an undercover operation that began five months earlier.

Sandford criticized what she called a lack of oversight on the operation, suggesting it would not have continued for as long had operational plans been properly communicated to RCMP superiors in Ottawa.

“Clearly, there is something inherently problematic about (police) setting up a pretend terrorist group,” she said. “All of this ought to have been carefully considered.”

The sting went from gathering intelligence about Nuttall, whose outspoken views on radical Islam had already flagged him to police, to an operation designed to see whether undercover operators could induce him to commit terrorist acts, Sandford said.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with targeting (a suspect) … based on these facts. But it’s the nature of the operation and the direction it took that became problematic,” she said.

“Once their investigations had not uncovered anything as far as evidence of actual criminal activity they couldn’t then leapfrog into providing the opportunity. And that’s exactly what happened.”

The statement of defence said Nuttall and Korody were promised new lives, future work, care for their cat, payment of debt and assistance going through drug withdrawal.

WATCH: Details were released at the entrapment hearing today of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody reveal how Nuttall ended up on RCMP radar. Rumina Daya has the details.

The lonely and isolated pair were misled about basic tenets of their new faith and their fears were stoked by suggestions that powerful terrorist associates were keeping tabs on them, the statement read.

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Korody’s lawyer, Mark Jette, told court that the RCMP treated the case as a national priority and that transcripts from high-level police meetings indicate the investigative team’s superiors were applying considerable pressure on officers.

Jette highlighted the RCMP’s strategy of having undercover officers build the couple’s trust and further isolate them.

“(Theirs) was a diminishing social circle that started small and got smaller until ultimately it became little more than (the primary undercover officer),” Jette told the court.

Jette noted the loyalty and affection Nuttall expressed toward the principal officer, referring to him in Arabic as “brother,” a term of endearment. The pair even appeared to suffer from separation anxiety when the officer was away, he added.

Jette dismissed earlier police testimony that undercover officers did not suggest to Nuttall and Korody, either directly or indirectly, that they were members of some larger, powerful terrorist organization, likely al-Qaida.

The Crown has not yet delivered its closing address but has already argued that Nuttall and Korody aspired to kill and maim innocent people in retribution for what they saw as Canada’s disrespectful behaviour towards Islam.

Closing arguments are scheduled to run until the end of next week.

WATCH: John Nuttall and Amanda Korody have been found guilty of conspiring to commit murder in a terror plot involving a foiled attempt to bomb the provincial legislature two years ago. But despite today’s decision, the couple has yet to be convicted.  Catherine Urqhuart explains.