Canada tried to deport terror suspect Raed Jaser
Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier face charges in connection with alleged Via Rail plot
CBC News has confirmed that Canada tried nine years ago to deport Raed Jaser, one of the two men accused in the Via Rail terror plot, but authorities didn't proceed and later granted him permanent residency.
Jaser, 35, and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, have been accused of plotting to derail a Via passenger train in what authorities have called an "al-Qaeda supported" attack.
Jaser arrived with his parents and two siblings at Pearson International Airport on March 28, 1993. They travelled from Germany using fake French documents. When the parents made a claim for refugee protection, Jaser was a dependent minor.
The family was denied refugee status, but appealed.
When his parents later withdrew their claim for refugee protection, changing to the deferred removal order class, Jaser could not be included in that program because he had criminal convictions.
Jaser was determined not to be a refugee on Oct. 30, 1998.
In 2004, a warrant was issued for Jaser's arrest so he could be deported.
At the deportation hearing held that August, he claimed that he was a stateless Palestinian and there was nowhere to send him. His lawyer also pointed out that a pre-removal risk assessment had not been done as required.
Jaser was born in the United Arab Emirates, but at the 2004 detention review hearing, Jaser said he was not a citizen of that country.
"I am a Palestinian by blood, that does not give me any rights whatsoever in my place of birth," he said.
The issue of his criminal convictions also surfaced at the 2004 hearing, with the government counsel saying Jaser had "five fraud-related convictions" and "two prior convictions for failure to comply with a recognizance."
At the conclusion of the hearing, Jaser was allowed to stay on bail until the government figured out what to do. Jaser later applied for, and was granted a pardon. It's not clear if the pardon was for one or all of his charges.
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A source told CBC News that in 2001 Jaser was given two years probation, a $1,000 fine and a five-year weapons ban after a conviction for uttering death threats. The National Post reported that he was later pardoned on that charge.
"With that pardon, he was subsequently granted permanent residency status in Canada," CBC's Greg Weston reported.
At a court appearance earlier this week, Jaser's lawyer said his client was in a "state of shock and disbelief" following his arrest and that he denied the allegations against him. Lawyer John Norris also said earlier this week that his client was a permanent resident with deep roots in Canada.
According to the detention review transcript, the "rest of Mr. Jaser’s family are now Canadian citizens."
Jaser and Esseghaier were both remanded to custody pending their next appearances, via video, on May 23.