Manitoba

ISIS supporter Aaron Driver fights attempt to limit his freedom

A Winnipeg man's lawyer is in court fighting RCMP attempts to limit his freedom due to his open support of the terrorist organization ISIS.

Driver caught the attention of CSIS in October 2014 when tweeting support for ISIS

Aaron Driver, seen leaving court earlier this year, was arrested in June and had his Charleswood-area rental home raided. (CBC ) (CBC)

A Winnipeg man's lawyer is in court fighting RCMP attempts to limit his freedom due to his open support of the terrorist organization ISIS.

Although Aaron Driver is not accused of any crime, the Mounties are seeking to have his current bail conditions extended for a longer term, based on the suspicion that he might help or engage in terrorist activities.

Defence lawyer Leonard Tailleur told the court on Monday the restrictions amount to punishment, even though Driver has never been charged.

"This is criminal right down the line," Tailleur told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing.

"Every provision's intended to make a statement of the state from a criminal standpoint on an individual that a charge that's used as a veil — they're not charged with anything but at the same time, he sits in custody. he waits, he's under these GPS devices. This is nonsensical to say it's not criminal or quasi-criminal at the least."

Federal prosecutor Ian Mahon said the restrictions are "not punitive" but reasonable for public safety.

A judge will decide if the restrictions are unconstitutional.

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.

That activity landed him on a watch list and in June 2015 Driver was arrested and a Charleswood-area home — where he was renting a room — was raided, with police removing his custom-made computer, phone, flash drives and Qur'an.

Investigators invoked a section of the Criminal Code to obtain a peace bond and make the arrest. Driver was later released on bail but with 25 conditions, one of which is that he undergo "religious counselling."

Other conditions require him to:

  • Wear an electronic monitoring device.
  • ​Surrender any passports he has and not apply for any passport from Canada or any other country.
  • Not possess any desktop, laptop or tablet computer. Any cellphone he has must be approved by RCMP, and the phone number must be submitted to police.
  • Provide passwords and access to his cellphone at the RCMP's request, with "such requests not to exceed two times per month."
  • Stay away from social media websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Kik, Surespot and Telegram encrypted chat.
  • Have "no contact or communication directly or indirectly with any member of ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Al Qaida in Iraq." He must also not possess anything bearing the logos or names of any of those groups.

When asked how Driver is doing these days, Tailleur replied, "Terrible!"

"He's in Ontario now, living with relatives," Tailleur said of his client.

"He's said he never wants to go on social assistance; that's his own statement. He wants to work as he was working before this thing got him and intruded upon him or he lost his job," he added.

"Now he's trying to find a job in Ontario so he can make a living and to come back here to try to afford to live here for four days while this trial is proceeding. That's difficult enough as it is. These things are weighing him."

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