Hearing set to determine if there are fears Canadian woman poses terrorism threat

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Kevin Martin

A Canadian woman who returned to Canada from Iraq earlier this week will face a two-day hearing in March to determine if there are grounds she may pose a terrorism threat.

Lawyer Yoav Niv appeared in Calgary provincial court Friday to schedule the hearing, in which the Crown will attempt to establish there are grounds to believe his client poses a threat to take part in terrorism activities.

Outside court, Niv said he will oppose the application for a Criminal Code peace bond which could impose restrictions on his client, including house arrest and electronic monitoring for up to 12 months.

Under a section of the code, a party may seek a judicial order to have a person sign an undertaking to abide by restrictions if a judge is satisfied there are reasonable grounds to fear that person may commit a terrorism offence.

The woman, who spent two years in Syrian prison camps, was allowed to return to Canada on Monday to be reunited with her five-year-old daughter and other family members.

The child, who was born in Syria, came to Canada earlier this year to live with her aunt.

The woman’s months-long struggle to make it home highlights the plight of several Canadians among the estimated thousands of foreign nationals held in Syrian camps by Kurdish forces that reclaimed the strife-torn region from the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

There is a publication ban on the woman’s identity.

Her Ottawa lawyer, Paul Champ, told the Canadian Press she has had to fight the federal government to return home.

During the summer, the woman believed she was close to getting a travel document from Canadian authorities, but when the process stalled she took her case to Federal Court.

“It was shameful that my client had to sue the Canadian government to force them to give her an emergency passport,” Champ said Tuesday. “We still have no explanation why Canada left her stranded in Irbil, Iraq, a few blocks from the Canadian consulate that could have issued her an emergency passport at any time.”

The RCMP sent officers to Irbil to interview the woman in late October. The Mounties met the woman upon her arrival in Canada this week and have applied for a peace bond, which requires a person to abide by certain conditions, Champ said.

In 2014, she left Canada for Turkey, soon travelling to Syria.

“Shortly thereafter, I realized that I had been manipulated into going to that country,” she said in an affidavit filed in Federal Court.

“While in Syria, there were several times that I tried to leave, but I was not allowed to do so. I was moved around numerous times. I was not allowed to speak to my family or friends.”

Niv’s client, who is under COVID quarantine, did not appear in court to set the hearing date.