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Monday, July 28, 2014

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Canadian web-hosting firms deny ties to Syrian sites

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Laya Witty

TORONTO — Two Internet firms that were threatened with legal action by an Israeli anti-terrorist civil rights group for allegedly hosting Syrian government ministries say they’re in full compliance with federal law and that the charges are out of date.

The new Canadian arm of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center sent a letter July 10 to the two web-hosting companies – iWeb Technologies of Montreal and Webforce Hosting in Kelowna, B.C. – warning they may face civil and criminal action if they don’t stop hosting the Syrian government sites, because Canada designated Syria as a state sponsor of terror in 2011.

Rackforce and iWeb were both named in a November 2011 report by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School for International Affairs, which said the firms were hosting 17 sites for the Syrian ministries of culture, transport and electricity, as well as the Syrian patent office and others.

Hezbollah sites were also listed in the report, and German and U.S. web-hosting firms were implicated as well.

In a statement to the QMI news agency, iWeb said that it “has no direct involvement with any of the Syrian entities mentioned in the report, and our contract with resellers impose that they comply with Canadian law.”

But iWeb admitted that it’s investigating two of its clients that resell server space that may have had recent dealings with one of the banned Syrian entities. The firm said it has asked the resellers to stop their dealings with the organizations.

Meanwhile, Rackforce CIO Randall Rabinson told QMI that his company hadn’t received business from the organizations cited in the Munk report since September 2011

“To threaten legal action for a matter that was resolved two years ago is damaging to RackForce’s good reputation and throws into question the validity of Shurat HaDin’s current activities and methods,” he told QMI.

The Shurat Hadin letter, signed by its Canadian representative, lawyer Laya Witty, says the Canadian web-hosting firms could get caught up in civil litigation that it intends to commence against Syria, adding that although sovereign states are normally immune from civil liability, outlaw states designated as state sponsors of terror aren’t.

“We request that your company cease and desist providing aid and assistance to the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, a regime that has been designated by the government of Canada and other democratic nations as a state sponsor of terrorism,” the Shurat HaDin letter said.

“Failing to cease your provision of service to the Syrian government will result in a complaint being filed with the federal authorities in Canada to pursue these charges. You may also be exposed to prosecution and penalties under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The letter added that “by providing aid to the Syrian regime, Rackforce Hosting Inc. and iWeb Technologies Inc. expose themselves and their directors to civil litigation and to asset seizure by creditors holding unenforced judgments against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israeli-based NGO that uses the legal system to help terror victims around the world. Among its clients are current creditors of the Syrian regime.

This is the first action taken by its new Canadian branch.

“We hope to bring the same measure of justice to Canadian terror victims as we have been bringing to other victims throughout the world,” said Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

“There is a lot of work to be done in Canada, and we are ready for the challenge – bankrupting terrorism one lawsuit at a time.”

The next print edition of The CJN is Aug. 1.

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