Posts Tagged ‘Free Byron’
Byron Sonne’s case has finally come to trial. Because it is not a jury trial, concerns that the media could misrepresent the facts of the case and taint a jury no longer apply, so there is no publication ban for the proceedings, although evidence given under the preliminary hearing is still covered under the publication ban.
We are into the fourth week of Byron Sonne’s trial. Video of two of Byron’s interrogations have been released, giving Canadians a chilling look at how the law can work in Canada. Jesse Brown looks at the interview process to help us understand what is happening here. This trial will clearly go on much longer.
The first week of the trial saw Charter arguments from the defense. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the legislation that guarantees Canadian civil rights.
1. Arrest Warrant
“Mr. Sonne, a Forest Hill security professional arrested days before the 2010 world leaders’ conference, stands charged with possessing explosive substances and counselling others to commit mischief. The Crown’s case is based on the premise that the accused was targeting the G20 summit, while supporters argue Mr. Sonne — who meticulously documented security measures and mused online about how to subvert them — was merely exploring the limits of summit surveillance.”
“The defence alleges the first Charter violations occurred when Mr. Sonne was arbitrarily detained and questioned by police in the financial district about a week before the G20, after he was seen photographing the expansive security perimeter.”
“While the accused initially refused to produce identification, “the officers threatened him with a provincial offence [jaywalking] as a ruse to compel him to identify himself,” the defence factum noted.”
— Megan O’Toole, National Post, Police violated rights of man accused of plotting G20 attack, trial hears
Possibly the single most shocking thing to me, personally, was the newspaper reportage. Regardless of political stripe, every one seemed equally concerned with the abuses to Canadian civil rights evidenced in this specific case.
Globe and Mail
“The defence also argues that he was questioned for 12 hours without having access to a lawyer.”
“Mr. Sonne is corralled in front of that police car,” defence lawyer Joe Di Luca told Ontario Superior Court Justice Nancy Spies.
Mr. Di Luca said his client, as was his right, refused to identify himself when the officers asked.
He said he would only do so if he was being detained under the Terrorism Act, something the Crown said would have alarmed the officers.
The police then devised a “ruse” to obtain his ID by threatening to arrest him for jaywalking, court heard, and Mr. Sonne then appeared to identify himself.
Mr. Sonne’s Internet activity had attracted the attention of law enforcement,” Byrne said.
To justify the warrant that led to his arrest, police used Mr. Sonne’s Twitter and Flickr postings, along with statements made when they stopped him downtown.
Colin Perkel, Globe and Mail, G20 trial begins for man charged with possessing explosives
2. Home/Office Search Warrant
Toronto computer consultant Byron Sonne once built a “wave guide” to redirect microwave energy but confessed he was unable to even melt chocolate from a few inches.
“He posted a wry account of his failed experiment on his “Toronto Goat Blog,” in June 2009, concluding there was “no magnetron death ray.”
“But a year later, a G20 intelligence detective deliberately misled a judge when he omitted any reference to the blog in a document seeking authorization for a search warrant of Sonne’s Forest Hill home, his lawyer Joseph Di Luca argued Tuesday.”
“In written documents, the Crown argues French’s concerns were reasonable and the defence’s “microanalysis” of his every factual assertion should be rejected.”
— Peter Small, Toronto Star, Police officer misled judge in ‘G20 geek’ probe, lawyer says
3. Search Warrant Family Cottage
“His lawyers argue officers quickly developed tunnel vision after reading Sonne’s blog, posts on Flickr and tweets from a Toronto Goat Twitter account and wrongly concluded he had nefarious intentions.
Defence lawyer Joseph Di Luca told the court the flimsy evidence amassed against Sonne should be thrown out because police repeatedly violated his Charter rights and filed an affidavit filled with “falsehoods and inaccuracies” to secure search warrants for his home and Midland cottage.
At one point, police falsely claimed they’d found HTMD, an explosive substance, and a home-made detonator in Sonne’s Elderwood Ave. home so a judge would issue another warrant.”
— Michele Mandel, Toronto Sun Byron Sonne: Wacky or enemy of the state?
Although I am not a lawyer, but it certainly seems to me that the rights guaranteed to Byron Sonne, the same rights owed to every citizen under the Charter, were not honoured.
Any unarmed, ordinary, law abiding, Canadian, suddenly surrounded by three armed police officers is likely to comply with whatever they say. But Byron didn’t.
Byron refused to allow himself to be bullied.
Byron Sonne availed himself of the legal protection of Canadian Law. It seems that everything else happened as a direct consequence.
Since when does standing up for yourself warrant the kind if legal over-reaction levelled at Byron Sonne? Call me crazy, but I had this idea that law enforcement isn’t supposed to bully citizens. That’s why we have the Charter: to protect our rights.
Byron Sonne did not allow himself to be bullied. If the Crown attorney doesn’t understand the effect of that, perhaps the Crown needs to get reacquainted with the world most Canadians live in. I find the Crown’s cavalier attitude toward Canadian civil rights to be very disturbing.
If the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
doesn’t work for one of us,
it works for none of us.
P.S.: The trial has already exceeded the time allotted for it, and will go much further. Please make a donation if you can:
You can wire funds directly to:
Valerie Sonne, In Trust
TD-Canada Trust, 1 Queen St.E & Main St., Brampton, Ontario, Canada L6W 2A7
Branch Transit: 21202
Financial Institution: 004
Activism is an incredibly broad term that can mean many things to many people.
Activism consists of intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change.
This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument. In contemporary use, “activism” tends to be a word associated with the actions and ideologies of those on the political left.
The word “activism” is used synonymously with protest or dissent, but activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, both sit-ins and hunger strikes, or even guerrilla tactics.”
Of course, you can’t always believe what you read. Just because something is in print does not necessarily mean it is true or accurate, whether in a book, a newspaper or a web page. Wikipedia is certainly in error in conflating “violent revolutionary activities” with Malcolm X, who was himself non-violent like the majority of activists. It was only after Malcolm X was assasinated that his followers turned to “violent revolutionary activities.”
I’ve never met Byron Sonne, and only heard about him recently. The publication ban means what I know about it is limited to what has already been published. Which may or may not be true. Still, there is enough there in the public record to cause me concern, which is why I’ve written a couple of blog posts about it.
One of the comments posted to my first article Silencing Online Activism: From “Officer Bubbles” to “Free Byron” states emphatically that:
Byron Sonne is in jail because he purchased TATP explosives over the internet deliberately to provoke the police into arresting him. “
—BelchSpeak commenting on Silencing Online Activism: From “Officer Bubbles” to “Free Byron.”
If Mr. BelchSpeak is correct, that would certainly qualify Mr. Sonne’s actions as being political. Which would be an act of political activism. The objective of that type of activism is to challenge laws and the legal system.
When I attempted to point that out to Mr. BelchSpeak, he didn’t seem to understand what I was saying, which is why I’ve written this post to explain it a little better.
In itself, buying explosives is not activism.
Explosives may be bought to blow up the large stump and root system that makes half your field unusable. That’s farming, not activism.
Explosives might be bought to blow the door off a safe. (An excellent Parker story springs to mind…) That’s criminal activity, not activism.
Explosives were bought to drop out of Lancaster Bombers on Nazi Germany in the second world war. That was an act of war, not activism.
Explosives might be bought to create pyrotechnic special effects in Raiders of the Lost Arc. That’s special effects, not activism.
Explosives are sometimes bought to blow up symbolic buildings as a means of attempting to intimidate governments into doing things they otherwise would not do. That’s terrorism, not activism.
Explosives are bought to create community fireworks displays in communities across Canada on Victoria Day or Canada Day. That’s community spirit, not activism.
Explosives can also be bought to set off in back yards, although they are often used inappropriately and too often one hears stories of children harming themselves, sometimes even losing body parts or causing damage when using these fireworks without adequate supervision. That’s foolishness, not activisim.
But if explosives are bought for the express purpose of provoking the police, that would in fact be activism. Explosives purchased to expose flaws in G8/G20 Summit Security arrangements, with the intent of ridiculing the authorities, in the hope of encouraging them to not hold the G8/G20 Summit here now, or any in the future, would certainly qualify as activism, because it would be “intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change”
Again, I have no way of knowing if it’s true or not, I’m simply basing this on what BelchSpeak said.
But if it is true, it would mean Byron Sonne is an unlikely flight risk. Because this type of activism is done in order to challenge, draw attention to and hopefully change societal and legal inequities.
Mr. Sonne had a well ordered and comfortable life. He owned a business, a beautiful home, had strong community ties. People aren’t often willing to jeopardize those things unless they fee very strongly about an issue. Usually that the risk is warranted if there is a chance that wrongs can be righted. The last thing that Byron Sonne would be is a flight risk, since because having a day in court would be the point.
People accused of murder are routinely released on bail. Bail is granted if they are not considered a danger to others or a flight risk. Accused people are allowed to resume their normal lives while preparing for a trial date which may be years in the future. An accusation is not a conviction, and in the eyes of the law, people accused of crimes are considered innocent until they are proven guilty. Even convicted felons are sometimes subject to serve a sentence of “House Arrest” or “Work Release.”
I do not pretend to have all the facts. I don’t know what Byron Sonne actually did. The point is that the charges brought against him could be very broadly interpreted.
The facts that I do have are that Byron Sonne has been charged, but not convicted of anything. Unless and until he is actually convicted of anything, he should not have to serve years in jail.
So if what Mr. BelchSpeak wrote is true, it would mean that Byron Sonne is neither dangerous or a flight risk, Byron Sonne’s denial of bail would itself be a serious miscarriage of justice.
Because it would mean that his bail was denied as a punishment.