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BBC News - Canada train 'al-Qaeda plot'

Two suspects in an alleged al-Qaeda-backed plot to derail a Canadian passenger train have challenged the case against them.

In a Montreal court, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, said the case against him was based only on "appearances".

A lawyer for Raed Jaser, 35, said he would "defend himself vigorously", outside his hearing in Toronto.

Officials said the alleged plot had support from al-Qaeda in Iran, although there was no sign of state sponsorship.

Canadian authorities said the two suspects were arrested in Montreal and Toronto on Monday.

Raed Jaser's lawyer, John Norris, said his client's reaction was one of ''shock and disbelief''
Mr Jaser is understood to be a United Arab Emirates national of Palestinian origin, though his lawyer points out he is a permanent Canadian resident who has lived there 20 years.

Mr Esseghaier is thought to be of Tunisian origin.

'Imam's tip-off'
The charges against the pair include conspiring to interfere with transport facilities on behalf of a terrorist organisation and conspiring to commit murder.

Neither suspect entered a plea in Tuesday's hearings.

But Mr Esseghaier said the charges against him were unfair.

"The conclusions were made based on acts and words which are only appearances," he said in French after receiving permission to speak.

He declined representation by a court-appointed lawyer.

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Submitted: 04/24/2013
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