OTTAWA – A man arrested in an alleged homegrown terrorism plot will be held until at least Tuesday on unrelated assault charges, prompting his lawyer to cry foul Sunday.
Richard Morris, counsel for the 20-year-old, speculated that authorities are likely dragging things out so they can continue probing his client in relation to the terror investigation.
“Normally one would be held on charges that exist, not on charges they hope to lay some time in the future,” Morris said after a court hearing Sunday.
“Frankly, my client would rather not be charged at all, but if the RCMP have something to bring forward they should.”
It was the latest strange turn in a case that’s beginning to yield more questions than answers.
Three men are in custody after a year-long investigation by the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other agencies.
Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa and Khurram Syed Sher, 28, of London, Ont., have been charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
They were arrested after police seized more than 50 electronic circuit boards supposedly designed to be remote detonators for explosive devices, as well as schematics, videos, terrorist literature and bomb-related documents.
A publication ban covers weekend proceedings that took place in an Ottawa courtroom.
Morris’s client, who works at a call centre, appeared in court Saturday facing an unrelated domestic assault charges. He was released on bail, then promptly arrested again on similar charges. The man appeared in court again Sunday. A full bail hearing is slated for Tuesday.
As for any link to the terror probe, the RCMP say only that they executed a search warrant Friday and took someone into custody, but did not lay charges.
That remained the case as the weekend drew to a close.
“I’m not going to make any comment,” one Mountie involved with the probe said Sunday.
Morris said he’s suspicious of the timing, noting the Crown argues it needs more time to complete its review so the appropriate charges may be laid against his client.
“My view is the Crown has had lots of time to do this and, yes, that they’re dragging things out unnecessarily,” Morris said.
“I remain of the view that there’s no reason to hold him in custody.”
The man, who is fasting during the day in observance of Ramadan, has had trouble with solid food in the evenings, Morris added.
“He’s indicated to me that he’s having difficulty eating and he’s hoping to get medical attention once they get him out to the jail, ” he said.
“This is all new to him. He’s never been in any trouble before in his life. He’s never had any contact or dealings with police that I’m aware of.”
Morris suggested he could argue his client’s constitutional rights are being violated.
“It’s certainly not off the table.”
Police claim the terrorism plot stretches from Ottawa to Afghanistan, Dubai, Iran and Pakistan. But there has been no official word on the alleged targets — or even if things had advanced that far.
Authorities said they swooped in when they did to prevent the suspects from sending money to counterparts to buy weapons that would be used against coalition forces in Afghanistan.