Suaad Hagi Mohamud's detention in Kenya

The case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Toronto woman who was stranded in Kenya for almost three months after finding herself entangled in a diplomatic imbroglio, generated widespread controversy and earned the federal government a harsh rebuke from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Canadian government under fire for handling of case

The case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Toronto woman who was stranded in Kenya for almost three months after finding herself entangled in a diplomatic imbroglio, generated widespread controversy and earned the federal government a harsh rebuke from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Canadian officials in Kenya confiscated the passport of Suaad Hagi Mohamud and concluded she was an impostor. ((CBC))

The media's focus on the story intensified during the last two weeks of her stay in Kenya, but the legal wrangling over the case went on much longer.

Here is a timeline of the major events of the case so far:

May 21: Mohamud tries to leave Kenya for Canada after travelling there on a two-week visit to see her ailing mother. But Kenyan immigration officials in Nairobi stop her from boarding her flight, claiming her facial features did not match her four-year-old Canadian passport photo.

A document from Kenyan authorities specifies that officials believe her lips look different than those of the person in the passport photo.

Mohamud later alleges she was being pushed to offer bribe money to be allowed to get on the plane to return home and she refused to pay. She is detained in Kenya.

May 22: The High Commission of Canada in Nairobi confiscates and voids her passport, despite Mohamud producing her Canadian driver's licence, fingerprints and other documents.

May 28: After spending eight days in a Kenyan jail, Mohamud is released on bail. Liliane Khadour, the Canadian High Commission's first secretary, tells Kenyan government officials a thorough investigation has determined Mohamud is an impostor and recommends that she be prosecuted.

Kenyan officials charge her with identity fraud. Mohamud would spend parts of the next 2½ months living in Nairobi slum hotels.

July 22: The Canadian government, after negotiating a settlement to a Federal Court motion filed by Mohamud's lawyer, Raoul Boulakia, agrees to ask Kenyan authorities to delay her trial until a DNA test can be conducted to confirm her identity.

July 24: After the Kenyan government agrees to delay Mohamud's trial, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon tells reporters in Ottawa "there is no tangible proof" Mohamud is Canadian. "All Canadians who hold passports generally have a picture that is identical in their passport to what they claim to be," he says.

July 29: Mohamud's former husband, Hussein Asbscir, and her son, Mohamed Hussein, 12, submit to DNA testing in order to help resolve her case.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Canadian woman stranded in Kenya, as seen in her Canadian passport photo. ((CBC))

Aug. 10: The results of a DNA test conducted on Mohamud are released and confirm her identity. The test results show there's a 99.99 per cent chance that she is the mother of her son in Toronto, Boulakia says.

Aug. 11: A day after the DNA test results emerge, the Canadian Border Services Agency says it is working on issuing Mohamud emergency travel documents so she can return to Canada. Spokeswoman Tracie LeBlanc declines to specify whether the documents include an emergency passport or when Mohamud would return.

Aug. 12: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says the federal government has "no excuse" for failing to come to Mohamud's aid, saying there's something "fundamentally wrong" when Ottawa can't be counted on to stand up for Canadians.

The Foreign Affairs spokesperson says the Canadian government has asked Kenyan authorities to drop the charges against Mohamud. Kenyan officials say a motion to drop the charges will be filed on Aug. 14.

Aug. 13: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had yet to publicly comment on the case, tells reporters that the government's priorities are now "to see her get on a flight back to Canada."

Boulakia says he has asked that Mohamud be put on a flight for Canada on Aug. 14 but says the Canadian government has yet to give him any specific flight details. He also expresses frustration that senior government officials are only now speaking about Mohamud's situation.

"The really important time to stick up for her was in May, June and July," he says. "Sticking up for her after we've got the DNA test back is a safe battle to pick."

Aug. 14: Kenyan Justice Stella Muketi agrees to drop charges against Mohamud and orders her bail money returned. Mohamud boards a plane from Nairobi to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. 

Harper says the federal government will investigate Mohamud's case, saying Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has asked for a "full accounting" of how the Canada Border Services Agency handled the situation.

But Mohamud's lawyer in Kenya, Lucas Naikuni, tells reporters he plans on suing both the Canadian and Kenyan governments. He also wants to sue KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, whose employees stopped her from boarding her May 21 flight.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud was reunited with her 12-year-old son at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Aug. 15, 2009. ((CBC))

Aug. 15: Mohamud leaves Amsterdam on a KLM flight, arrives in Toronto and is reunited with her son.

"You can't imagine, I'm really happy to come back, I'm really, really happy to come home," she tells reporters. "I'm glad my own nightmare is over."

Aug. 16: Mohamud appears to be suffering from some kind of respiratory illness, Boulakia says. Over the coming days, she begins to receive treatment for the illness, which has yet to be diagnosed.

Boulakia also dismisses Naikuni's assertions that Mohamud would be taking legal action against the Canadian government, the Kenyan government and KLM.

"He has absolutely no authority whatsoever to make statements like that," Boulakia says, adding that he had written to Naikuni and "told him to stop saying things like that."

Aug. 17: Doctors have found that Mohamud doesn't suffer from pneumonia or tuberculosis, Boulakia says. But she is still suffering from a persistent cough and appetite loss that may have resulted from stress caused by her situation, he says.

Aug. 18: Boulakia demands Mohamud's case file and passport, the latter of which had earlier been lent to Kenyan officials during the prosecution process, be turned over to the Federal Court. The Department of Foreign Affairs defers inquiries about the document to Passport Canada.

Passport Canada spokesman Sebastien Bois won't comment on the specifics of Mohamud's case. But he says that in such cases, passports are typically returned to Passport Canada or to the nearest Canadian government office.

Aug. 19: Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says an internal investigation into the case could be completed within a month.

Liliane Khadour, the Canadian official who wrote to Kenyan authorities and gave them the green light to prosecute Mohamud, returns to Canada. The Department of Foreign Affairs denies she was called to Canada because of her role in the case.

Rather, she had concluded her duties in Kenya and "has returned to Ottawa for her next assignment," says Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Emma Welford.

Aug. 21: Mohamud says she is suing the Canadian government for $2.6 million.

"I don't care about money," she tells reporters at a Toronto news conference. "I only go to court so this never happen[s] to another Canadian citizen."

Oct. 1: Raoul Boulakia, Mohamud's lawyer, says consular documents reveal the federal government did little to investigate the case after branding her an impostor. According to Boulakia, although the federal government said on July 2 it had done an "extensive investigation," consular documents show that little was done after the initial assessment in late May.

Sept. 28: The federal government files court documents claiming Mohamud gave contradictory statements that led consular officials to believe she was an impostor and not the proper owner of the passport in her possession. The government says Mohamud gave wrong answers and contradictory information in three separate interviews with Canadian officials. According to the documents, the officer suspected he was talking to an impostor — possibly Mohamud's younger sister — by the end of the second interview.