Canadian in Mauritanian jail visited by consular officials
Aaron Yoon repeatedly asked officials not to inform family of his whereabouts, say sources
Doubt is being cast on a young Canadian man's claim that the federal government is not helping him try to get out of jail in the West African nation of Mauritania.
Sources familiar with the file tell CBC News that Aaron Yoon has been visited nine times by either Canada's Honorary Consul based in Mauritania or by consular officials based in Rabat, Morocco.
A spokesperson for Diane Ablonczy, Canada's minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote in a statement that "Canadian officials continue to provide assistance to the individual as they would for any Canadian detained abroad." The assistance does not signify a belief in Yoon's guilt or innocence, read the statement.
The sources say Yoon repeatedly urged officials not to contact his family in Canada to advise them of his situation. The government is required by the Privacy Act to abide by that kind of request.
'Beat up and tortured,' claims Yoon
Yoon told CBC's Adrienne Arsenault by cellphone this week that he did not tell anyone about his detention because he was embarassed about the situation. He said he was working up to telling his family.
Yoon said he has been imprisoned for "almost two years" and hasn't received "any help from the Canadian government."
"I have been wrongfully accused, I've been beat up and tortured. I'm still sick and I still don't see any medical attention yet," he said.
Ahmed Ould Teguedi, the country's ambassador to the UN and ambassador-designate to Canada, told CBC's Melissa Kent earlier this week that Yoon's conditions in detention are good.
He said Yoon will be judged in a transparent manner and may have one or more Canadian lawyers defending him.
2-year jail sentence
Yoon has been in custody in Mauritania since December 2011.
Last July, he was sentenced to two years in jail on charges of belonging to an illegal organization.
Yoon, who is in his early 20s, is from London, Ont., and went abroad with two high school friends who later died in an attack on an Algerian gas plant.
Ali Medlej, 24, and Xris Katsiroubas, 22, are the two Canadian men who were involved in the al-Qaeda-linked attack on the gas refinery. It appears Yoon had no role in the attack.
With files from Melissa Kent, Adrienne Arsenault, Lindsay Tsuji