Last year, a record number of Canadians arrested abroad for terrorism cases or national security, reveal documents obtained.
According to the Foreign Ministry, ten Canadian citizens were arrested in 2014 by authorities in other countries for offenses which, according to these countries, terrorism touched or threatened national security, against six in 2013 and one in 2012. Three others were sent behind bars since the beginning of 2015.
But there are also Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian-Canadian journalist based in Cairo, arrested in 2013 and sentenced in 2014 to seven years in prison. He was accused of having fraternized with the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization returned to the new Egyptian government. Al-Jazeera, where he was office manager, had covered repression against supporters of former Islamist president, which displeased the government. Mr. Fahmy was released after 400 days behind bars, but is still awaiting a new trial. Several rights organizations estimate that is persecuted for his views.
“The problem is that these people are arrested under the laws of the country where they are located. No Canadian laws, warns Hilary Homes, responsible for security issues and human rights at Amnesty International Canada. What a country regards as terrorism is not the same thing elsewhere. There are places where the simple act of insulting the king is considered a threat to security. ”
What are the numbers?
What then are the figures obtained by La Presse? Are Canadians more likely to participate in terrorist activities? Or is he simply a greater intransigence on the part of foreign governments?
Hard to say without knowing the identity of persons affected by the arrests or the country where they were intercepted information that the federal government refuses to disclose for reasons of confidentiality.
“We must be careful in reading which is relatively small numbers. Nevertheless, I think the risk that Canadians participate in overseas violent extremist activities has increased significantly in recent years, notes Brynen Rex, professor of political science at McGill University. What is happening in the Middle East is a major reason for this: groups like the Islamic State (EI) actively seek to recruit foreign fighters, either to fight in local wars or possible acts of international terrorism. International cooperation to address this problem has increased, but the problem has increased, too. ”
Just think of this group of students from Collège de Maisonneuve in January left the ranks of the IU and which the police has since confirmed the presence in Syria.
According to Hilary Homes, there is a bit of everything. “As in Canada, many states have expanded their definitions of terrorism,” she said. She added that it is also possible that more Canadians are involved in terrorist activities.
“The important thing is that these people receive consular services without discrimination [despite the nature of the charges], says Ms. Homes. No identities and countries, it is difficult to help them, whether they are entitled to a fair trial or even if they are accused of anything or just prisoners. ”