Aaron Driver, who authorities fear might get involved in terrorist activity, says he had no choice but to agree to a peace bond.
"If I fought it, they would have added even more conditions than I'm already under," Driver told CBC News Tuesday at the Winnipeg courthouse, as he waited to sign paperwork at the clerk's office.
Driver will not go to trial. He is not facing criminal charges, but his lawyer and the Crown agreed to a peace bond to limit his activities.
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During a court hearing Tuesday morning, the Crown said by agreeing to enter into the peace bond, Driver is "consenting or acknowledging that there are reasonable grounds to fear that he may participate, contribute — directly or indirectly — in the activity of a terrorist group."
Michelle Falk, executive director of Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, said consent in Driver's case is debatable because Driver would have faced additional restrictions on his freedom had he not agreed to the bond.
"We don't really think he had a choice in the matter," Falk said.
The peace bond does not require Driver to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet or undergo religious counselling — two conditions that Driver faced when he was released on bail in June.
He will, however, have to continue living in Ontario, where he has been staying with his brother in recent months, and seek written permission to own any cellphones, computers or mobile devices. As well, he must stay off social media websites until the end of August.
The judge presiding over the case asked Driver in court if he understood and was prepared to abide by the conditions.
"Yes," he replied.
Driver's lawyer, Len Tailleur, said he worked out a deal with the Crown to eliminate some of the conditions.
"It's a compromise, but it's a fair compromise," Tailleur said.
"I got several conditions off — one, namely, [the] GPS device, an ankle bracelet around him."
Tailleur said GPS tracking bracelets are for high-risk convicted offenders, not for individuals like Driver who aren't facing criminal charges.
Falk worries Driver's case sets a "scary" precedent in Canada.
"Without having been charged with a crime Aaron Driver has been unjustly subjected to some pretty significant restrictions on his freedom and human rights and we don't think this is something that should be allowed in Canada. You need to be proven guilty of a crime before you are being held accountable in this way," Falk said.
Tweeted support for ISIS
Driver caught the attention of CSIS, Canada's spy agency, in October 2014 when he was tweeting support for the militant group ISIS under the alias Harun Abdurahman.
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He has also said the attack in October 2014 on Parliament Hill by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was justified. However, Driver has said he doesn't think Canadians should fear him.
"I wouldn't have gone on Twitter if it wasn't for CBC," Driver said on Tuesday.
"It was the way you covered the Parliament shooting. I was listening intently. You've connected me with some Islamic Twitter accounts because you quoted them."
When asked if he should still be identified as an "ISIS supporter," Driver asked rhetorically what it means to be a "supporter."
He said people shouldn't be persecuted for their political beliefs, then said, "No comment."
Driver said he doesn't know whether the Crown will apply for another peace bond when the current one expires, but it would not surprise him if they do.
He added that he doesn't think the new Liberal government will do much to change the previous Conservative government's anti-terrorism legislation, as he believes there's too much fear in Canadian society.
Peace bond conditions
Driver will be bound by the peace bond for 10 months, expiring on Dec. 1. He is subject to the following conditions:
- Keeping the peace and being of good behaviour.
- Appearing before court when required.
- Carrying a copy of the peace bond on him at all times and producing it when a peace officer asks for it.
- Living at a specified address in Strathroy, Ont., and notifying a specified RCMP sergeant of any changes in address.
- Reporting twice a month to the specified RCMP sergeant.
- Not possessing or acquiring any firearms, ammunition, prohibited devices or explosive substances.
- Not applying for any passport from Canada or any other country. When he was released on bail in June, he was ordered to surrender any passports he had at the time.
- Not possessing any cellphones, computers, laptops, tablets or similar electronic devices "unless permitted in advance in writing from specified RCMP officer." This condition expires on Aug. 31.
- Staying away from social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Kik.
- Not possessing anything bearing the symbol for ISIS or ISIL or the words "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Al Qaida in Iraq."
- Having no contact with any members of ISIS or ISIL or any affiliated group, or with "any terrorist group or organization as designated by the Government of Canada" under the Criminal Code.