Charges Withdrawn for Blog on Undercover Cop
Charges withdrawn for blog on undercover cop
By Tim Groves; November 8, 2012 - Toronto Media Co-op
TORONTO - On November 8 criminal charges were dropped against a blogger who wrote about an undercover police officer who had befriended him as part of a police operation to spy on activists ahead of the 2010 G20 Summit.
The August 23, 2011, post appeared on http://peaceculture.org, a blog maintained by Dan Kellar, an activist and independent journalist. It warned that the officer, who was described as a "screw-rat infiltrator," had been seen in Toronto, noting, "If you see this piece of filth, spit in his footsteps and scoff at his existence."
Two days later, on August 25, 2011, Kellar was arrested and charged with with counseling to commit assault and two counts of criminal defamation. The defamation charges were later withdrawn, but new charges of criminal harassment and intimidation were laid.
"This is police trying to silence a thorn in their side," said Davin Charney, Kellar's lawyer.
"In an undercover operation there will be collateral damage. People's lives are investigated, their privacy undermined. It is inevitable that people will be upset," explained Charney. "When they express their frustrations, then of all of a sudden they are criminals. It is not right."
In order to be released from custody Kellar had to sign bail conditions agreeing to remove the post from the Internet and refrain from further writing on the undercover officers that had infiltrated activist groups in the lead up to the G20 Summit.
In 2009, [Ontario Provincial Police] officer Bindo Showan, assumed the name 'Khalid Mohammed' and befriended activists in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, including Kellar.
"Together they attended protests, meetings, shared drinks, and Showan visited Kellar’s home and work," reads a press release circulated by Kellar. "In that time, Showan made extensive notes about Kellar and many of his friends, although Kellar was never charged with any offence resulting from the undercover operation."
Showan's activities were part of an elaborate intelligence gathering program that saw undercover police officers infiltrate a variety of protest groups.
The identities of two of the officers, Showan, and another OPP officer, Brenda Carey, became exposed, as their testimony was to play a major role in the conspiracy charges that were laid against 17 activists who were dubbed as "ring leaders." The matter was later resolved in a plea deal.
"I could not believe Khalid/Bindo was a cop," wrote Kellar in an email. "After it became apparent that he was indeed a piece of shit infiltrator, it triggered a wide range of emotions."
These emotions explain some of the language Kellar uses to speak about undercover police officers, but he contends that his blog post was not written out of anger but rather from a sense of responsibility and fear.
"It is not nice language, but we don't have a responsibility to be nice to cops, especially not sociopathic professional liars," asserted Kellar, who is unrepentant about the contents of his post.
The blog post includes a photo of Showan, but only identifies him as "the so-called Khalid Mohammed." It did however include a link to a US based website that named Showan.
Kellar was expecting to go to trial on the matter in the next month, but his lawyer was recently contacted by Assistant Crown Attorney Jason Miller who explained that the charges would be withdrawn.
"The charges became the punishment without there having to be a conviction," said Charney, who believes Kellar should not have been charged in the first place. "It is corruption when an officer feels insulted, but then can charge someone criminally when there is no justification in law."
The Crown Attorney's office was asked to answer questions for this story but did not provide comment beyond confirming that "all charges were withdrawn."
Tim Groves is an investigative researcher and journalist based in Toronto. He can be reached at timgrovesreports [@] gmail.com. For more information on his work and writing, click here.