Ontario man living under strict conditions for ‘fear of terrorism offence’

An Ontario man who was detained for three months in Turkey is now living under more than a dozen court-ordered conditions, limiting his movement and interactions with others, because of “fear of [a] terrorism offence.”

Ikar Mao, 22, of Guelph, Ont., and his wife were travelling in Turkey in July when they were detained near the border with Syria on suspicion of terror-related activity. They were released without charge and returned to Canada in mid-October.

Mao has agreed with the Ontario Provincial Criminal Court in Brampton to 19 conditions, according to a court document dated Nov. 14 which cites a “a fear of terrorism offence” under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Mao has agreed to make scheduled court appearances and:

  • Surrender his passport.
  • Remain in Ontario at an address the RCMP is aware of.
  • Wear a GPS ankle bracelet.
  • Have only limited internet access.
  • Not possess a smartphone.
  • Not access or view any terror-related materials.
  • Not possess any weapons.
  • Abide by a curfew of 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

It’s not clear what prompted the move. Some of the details of the case are covered by a publication ban.

The RCMP would not answer questions, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We can tell you that the RCMP wants to reassure the citizens of the Greater Toronto Area and all Canadians, that our primary focus is the safety and protection of the public at all times,” they said in a statement.

Mao’s lawyer would not comment.

The conditions Mao is abiding by are common for suspected terrorism cases, said Mubin Shaikh, a former undercover operative who worked with CSIS in the Toronto 18 terror case.

But, he noted, they can be easy to flout.

“You can get a burner phone and you can go to town,” he said. “So the question is going to be, how are you going to police that?”

Shaikh said a lot of questions remain in the case and why the couple was released in Turkey.

“The Turkish authorities have also said they’re going to start to forcibly deport individuals back to their countries,” he said. “So I think the Turkish government realized that since we’re moving towards deportations anyway let’s just get rid of this couple that we have on our hands now.

“The fact that they were not charged probably means that the government is unable to connect intention with the specific cause of travel.”

Mao is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 6.


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