RCMP knew about Interpol alert for farmer: lawyer

The lawyer of jailed potato farmer Henk Tepper says the RCMP knew as much as a year ago that there was a red alert out from Interpol but didn't talk to Tepper about it.

The lawyer of jailed potato farmer Henk Tepper says the RCMP knew as much as a year ago that there was a red alert out from Interpol relating to Algeria, but didn't talk to Tepper about it.

Tepper was detained in Lebanon under a criminal warrant March 23 issued by Interpol at the request of the government of Algeria.

Rod Gillis, Tepper's lawyer, said Tepper was part of an official Canadian delegation to promote the export of potatoes in Lebanon, paid for by the Canadian government.

Tepper is accused of altering the Canadian Food Inspection Agency documents that went with the potato shipment.

Gillis has said the documents were altered, but by someone in Algeria — not his client.

Rod Gillis said the RCMP didn't say anything to Tepper, allowed him to go and spend the taxpayer's money to get to Lebanon and now he's spent almost 90 days in prison.

"He's obviously been misled by some officials or the RCMP," Gillis told CBC News Wednesday.

Gillis said Tepper told him Wednesday that if he'd known about the red flag, he never would have gone to Lebanon.

He said the RCMP made one contact with Tepper about a year ago, wanting to interview him.

Gillis said he and Tepper told the RCMP they would meet with them and give a statement, provided he'd be given his charter right to have a lawyer present.

Gillis said once the RCMP officials knew Tepper wanted his lawyer present, they were no longer interested in the interview.

Gillis is urging the federal justice minister to charge Henk Tepper, allowing him to leave Lebanon and return to Canada.

Gillis said if there was a crime, it related to a Canadian document, a Canadian certificate allegedly forged in Canada, by a Canadian, and those are all elements of a Canadian crime.

Gillis said he spoke with Tepper Wednesday.

"He's not well," said Gillis. "You can actually appreciate, there's some anxiety in his voice. He's getting somewhat desperate."

Another lawyer from Gillis' office, James Mockler, was in Beirut meeting with Tepper Wednesday. Gillis said Mockler told him that Tepper aged ten years.