updated 10/24/2006 12:08:19 PM ET 2006-10-24T16:08:19

A judge on Tuesday struck down a portion of Canada's top anti-terrorism law, ruling that the clause dealing with the definition of terrorism violates the country's bill of rights.

The ruling hands an at least partial victory to accused terror suspect Mohammed Momin Khawaja, who was the first person charged under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act, adopted in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The 27-year-old software developer faces seven criminal charges alleging he participated in and gave assistance to an alleged terrorist organization based in Britain.

Justice Douglas Rutherford of the Superior Court of Justice on Ontario on Tuesday "severed" a clause in the law which deals with ideological, religious or political motivation for illegal acts, but said the case can still go to trial as planned in January.

Khawaja, who remains jailed, had challenged his incarceration, saying it violated his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedom.

Khawaja's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said the ruling strikes to the core of the law.

"The motive clause is at the heart of the anti-terror law; that clause has been struck down," he said.

It was not clear whether Greenspon or federal prosecutors planned to appeal the ruling.

Khawaja has been in custody since his arrest on March 29, 2004.

Alleged plot to attack Britain
He has been tied to an alleged Islamic terrorist gang that plotted attacks against Britain's electricity supply network, pubs, nightclubs and trains, according to British prosecutor David Waters. He said Khawaja was an accomplice who carried out a "great deal of preparation" for the gang, whose alleged attacks were foiled in March.

"Momin Khawaja constitutes the Canadian end of the conspiracy," Waters told a news conference in London when news of the foiled attacks broke in March.

Canadian prosecutors alleged that Khawaja was helping to develop a cell phone detonator and that he is tied to eight men of Pakistani heritage who were arrested in Britain.

The charges against him allege that terrorist activities took place in London and Ottawa between November 2003 and March 29, 2004. Khawaja had made trips to London, but his brother said it was only to find a wife, according to the Canadian Broadcast Corp.

Khawaja had been working on contract as a computer software operator for the Foreign Affairs Department, but authorities said he had no access to classified documents.

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