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