Tag Archives: Aaron Driver

Canada: Alleged ISIS supporter released on bail after lengthy, illegal detention without charge

By Roger Jordan
June 20, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Twenty-three-year-old  was quietly released on bail late last week by a Manitoba court, after being detained since his arrest by police on June 4.

Despite holding Driver for eight days, police are yet to charge him with any crime. Police allege he supports the Islamic State (ISIS) and defended last October’s fatal attacks on Canadian Armed Forces personnel in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, pointing to postings he made on a Twitter account under the alias Harun Abdurahman. However, the court has imposed a ban on reporting evidence in the case, so it is not yet known if prosecutors have any evidence linking Driver to an actual crime under Canadian law.

The length of Driver’s detention without charge has been described by legal observers as unprecedented and a clear violation of his constitutional rights. For days, the authorities offered no public justification for their detention of Driver without charge past the 48 hours currently legally permitted. Now they are attempting to do so by citing Section 810 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which provides for the imposition of a peace bond or recognizance on an individual where there exists “reasonable grounds” to believe he or she will commit an act causing injury to someone or damage to property.

Under Section 810, someone who has not been charged, let alone convicted of a crime, can be jailed for up to a year if they refuse to sign a peace bond or fail to comply with its terms after it has been signed.

Originally introduced into the Criminal Code in 1985 as a means of dealing with cases of family breakdown and abuse of children, the government is increasingly using section 810 to restrict the movements and place onerous conditions on the activities of alleged terrorist suspects against whom the state has insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges.

Evidence suggests that Canada’s national security apparatus is now routinely intimidating people with threats of criminal charges and incarceration without bail so as to get them to “voluntarily” agree to sign a peace bond.

Driver’s case, however, appears to have set a chilling new precedent in that police continued to detain him beyond the legal limit of 48 hours, because he refused to agree to the peace bond process.

The police are now asking the courts to impose a peace bond on Driver, with a hearing scheduled for July 9.

Pending that hearing, Driver has been released from bail but under harsh and illegal conditions. Among other things, Driver must wear a GPS tracker at all times, engage in “religious counselling” and forward the counsellor’s name to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), follow a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, give up his passport, give up any computer of any kind, submit his telephone number to the police, give police the password to access his phone, avoid social media websites, and refrain from communicating with any ISIS or Al Qaida member. This latter condition appears deliberately aimed at presenting Driver to the public as a hardened terrorist, given that not a shred of evidence has thus far been presented to suggest that he has had any contact with these or any other terrorist group.

Driver’s restrictive bail terms were sharply criticized by the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL), the group that first drew attention to the Driver case. “This is a person, a Canadian citizen, who has not been charged with a crime and yet he’s going to be subject to 24/7 GPS monitoring,” said MARL President Corey Shefman. He added, “He could go to jail for failing to undertake religious activity. That doesn’t sound like Canada to me. That sounds like a theocracy.”

Driver’s treatment marks a further step in the direction of police state measures. While he was behind bars, Canada’s Senate gave final approval to the Conservative government’s new Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51). It vastly expands the powers of the national security apparatus, including giving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the power to break the law in disrupting reputed threats to Canada’s economic and national security. (See: “Canada’s police-state bill passes final parliamentary hurdle”)

The new law will also enable the authorities to obtain peace bonds much more easily. The wording in the criminal code is to be replaced, so that it reads “may” commit an offence rather than “will,” thereby significantly lowering the threshold of proof required to impose a peace bond. In addition, the maximum period of detention without charge will be extended to seven days for terrorist suspects.

As the Winnipeg Free Press wrote in an editorial criticizing the treatment of Driver, “If we’re upset with how he’s being treated now, be aware that Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act is going to make this type of treatment easier.”

In another recent case, a Prince Edward Island student who police claim was planning to make bombs was forced to sign a 12-month peace bond which restricts his movements and requires him to report to a probation officer once a week. He has been neither charged nor convicted of any offence. A Montreal man who signed a peace bond earlier this year is currently being criminally prosecuted for breaching its terms and could face a prison term.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this little-known provision is being transformed into an instrument to be used to target anyone the government likes, even if there is no evidence of criminal activity having been committed. The catch-all definitions of terrorism and national security threats now written into law provide the basis for peace bonds to be used in the future against working-class and left-wing opponents of the government.

Unsurprisingly, there have been no statements from any of the mainstream political parties raising concerns about the Driver case. In a statement released shortly after Driver’s detention, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Stephen Blainey merely noted that the government had to keep fighting terrorism.

With its draconian assault on basic democratic rights and legal principles, Canada’s Conservative government is pursuing the twin aims of establishing mechanisms to suppress all public opposition to its reactionary policies, as well as seeking to whip up a climate of fear and hysteria to justify its military aggression abroad.

To this latter end, government representatives portray the entire Muslim population as a menace to society. In a recent interview, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander effectively accused any Muslim woman wearing the burka or niqab of being a terrorist suspect. Commenting on the federal Conservative government’s plans to outlaw Muslim women wearing these face-covering garments from taking an oath of citizenship and the Quebec Liberal government’s bill preventing them from receiving health care and other public services, Alexander said, “We’ve done a lot in the past year to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. People take pride in that. They don’t want their co-citizens to be terrorists. They don’t want people to become citizens who haven’t respected the rules.”

Such fear-mongering aims to legitimize the vast authoritarian state apparatus which will be turned against the working class at the first sign of the emergence of opposition to the ruling elite.

Canada: Alleged ISIS supporter detained without charge for over a week

By Roger Jordan and Felix Gauthier
June 13, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Aaron Driver, a 24-year-old Winnipeg resident, has been held in police custody since June 4 without charge. He was arrested by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, who also searched his home, on allegations that he is an Islamic State (ISIS) supporter.

Authorities have not charged Driver with any crime. Under Canadian law, a terrorism suspect can be detained for a maximum of 48 hours without charge. This is to be extended to seven days under the recently adopted anti-democratic Bill C-51, but its provisions have yet to come into force.

“It should shock every Canadian citizen that this is possible or” that it “is being done,” Corey Shefman, head of the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties, told CBC. He continued, “I cannot comment on what he might or might not do, or what he has or hasn’t done. But I do know he hasn’t been charged with a crime and yet he finds himself behind bars without his freedom and no reason he has officially been presented with.”

Driver is said to have posted messages on Twitter defending ISIS and promoting extremist and reactionary views. In one post, he allegedly accused the Jews of plotting a war against Islam, and in another he defended ISIS’s use of terrorist methods.

However, authorities have presented no evidence, let alone charged Driver, with having or having had ties to a terrorist group. The only item the media report police having found during a raid of his Winnipeg home was an “Arabic for Dummies” book. They also seized his computer.

Reports indicate that Driver was an isolated individual who was trying to complete his high school diploma by attending adult education classes. He converted to Islam some time during the past two years, but according to teachers interviewed by the CBC, did not try to convert others. He allegedly used the alias Harun Abdurahman on Twitter to post pro-ISIS material.

No legal justification has thus far been given for Driver’s continued detention without charge.

Jeff Gindin, a defence lawyer with over 40 years of experience, drew attention to the unprecedented character of the Driver case. “So far there’s no real law that I’m aware of that when you think someone might commit an offence that you would then have the right to arrest them prior to that,” he told CBC.

Police plan to apply for a peace bond (or restriction order) at Driver’s next court hearing, scheduled for June 24. By then, he will have been held for almost three weeks without charge.

Peace bonds enable a judge to impose conditions on an individual whom the authorities suspect will commit a terrorist offence, but it is not necessary for the individual in question to have been charged, let alone convicted, of any crime.

Harper_HitlerThe detention of Driver without charge and in apparent violation of Canadian law is merely the latest indication of the Canadian elite’s turn towards openly authoritarian forms of rule. Earlier this week, the Senate, Canada’s upper house of parliament, gave its approval to the draconian Bill C-51. It grants the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the power to “disrupt” the activities of groups and individuals deemed to threaten national security, establishes an all-embracing speech-crime offence of “promoting” terrorism, virtually abolishes privacy rights, and provides for the confiscation or deletion of “terrorist propaganda.”

The fact that the ruling elite plans to use such measures against working class and left-wing opposition is confirmed by the vague definitions of potential threats in the legislation, which allow the security services to target any group deemed to be a threat to the economic or national security of Canada, and its diplomatic interests or constitutional order.

Bill C-51 will also make it easier for police to obtain peace bonds from a judge. Authorities will only be required to prove that an individual “may” facilitate a terrorist attack. This is a significant reduction of the evidentiary standard, meaning that the use of peace bonds will become much more routine.

Even without these powers, police forces across Canada have dramatically stepped up the use of peace bonds against alleged terrorist suspects in recent months.

A 20-year-old Stratford, Prince Edward Island resident signed a one-year peace bond on May 22 after the RCMP alleged that he possessed 50-60 castor beans, with which it is possible to produce the ricin toxin.

Amir Raisolsadat, a chemistry student at the University of Prince Edward Island, had been arrested in March after the RCMP told a judge it feared “on reasonable grounds” that he would commit a terrorist act. As his lawyer Brandon Forbes pointed out, Raisolsadat essentially faced the choice to “take on the combined efforts of the state in a prolonged hearing at great expense” or sign a peace bond.

Associates of Raisolsadat, including neighbours and professors, described him as a good student who likes chemistry. Raisolsadat himself denies intending harm to anyone.

In addition to restricting his movements to the island, the peace bond requires Raisolsadat to report to a probation officer and the police once a week. The peace bond also forbids him from owning castor beans, ricin, or any weapons, ammunition or explosives.

Before allegedly finding the castor beans in an iPhone case at his home in April last year, the RCMP claim to have uncovered instructions to make calcium phosphide and a diagram of a rocket with a section labelled “warhead” in Raisolsadat’s garbage. The RCMP also allegedly seized castor bean plants, computer equipment, and journals with drawings of bombs, explosions and chemical formulae.

While the RCMP won’t release further details, on the grounds of an ongoing criminal investigation, none of the published allegations indicate that Raisolsadat was a threat to anyone at the time of his arrest. According to Forbes, the rocket depicted in the diagram is “a foot-high piece of cardboard with glue and balsa wood. It’s meant to put a little GI Joe up in the air and it parachutes down” and can be bought in a toyshop. The RCMP claim Raisolsadat bought it with a fake name, whereas Forbes indicates it was bought by somebody else.

Raisolsadat wasn’t charged with any crime, nor have any of the allegations used to compel him to sign the peace bond been proven in court. However, if he violates the conditions he agreed to, he could face criminal charges leading to up to three years of probation and a two-year prison sentence. A Montreal man who recently signed a peace bond currently faces just such charges.

A series of terrorism suspects have been targeted by the RCMP through novel legal concepts, such as preventive arrest and peace bonds. Since the Ottawa shooting last October, the use of such techniques has increased markedly. Meanwhile, the Harper government has stepped up its campaign to portray Canada as a country under siege from terrorists, so as to both justify the adoption of Bill C-51 and Canada’s expanded role in the US-led war in the Middle East.

Ten young people accused of being on their way to join Jihadist groups abroad were arrested in May. In April, the 18-year-olds El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane pled not guilty to charges related to terrorism. Two men from Montreal were arrested in March and April and compelled to sign peace bonds.

While the current targets of the state’s expanding authoritarian powers are reputed supporters of Islamic extremism, no one should be in any doubt as to the ultimate purpose of these measures. As the Canadian ruling elite intensifies its policies of aggressive militarism abroad and attacks on social and democratic rights at home, it is preparing for mass repression of a wave of working class opposition.

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