A Palestinian refugee formerly detained by Canadian authorities and eventually acquitted on terrorism charges has moved to Christina Lake as his deportation case makes its way through the courts.
Othman Ayed Hamdan, who goes by “Adam,” told The Gazette last week that he moved to Christina Lake in November because he “wanted to resume a normal life” while he finishes his book, Project Scollop, titled after the RCMP anti-terrorism operation that led to his arrest in 2015 on four terrorism-related charges.
Noting the community’s perception that he supports the Islamist terrorist group, ISIS, Hamdan said he wants everyone to know that “my trial was about freedom of expression and those in power who attempt to suppress dissent.”
“The legal battle that I fought was for all Canadians.”
Hamdan spent time in several B.C. prisons before he was acquitted by a provincial Supreme Court judge on all four charges in September 2017. Immigration authorities then arrested him in Fort St. John, B.C., determining at multiple detention reviews that he poses a threat to national security.
Hamdan has been living with a person in Christina Lake who put up his $2,000 bond with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Grand Forks RCMP said they informed CBSA last fall that Mounties were concerned about Hamdan’s move to the area. Sgt. Darryl Peppler said Hamdan is regularly monitored by the detachment as per the conditions of his release from prison and that he has not created any problems for police.
Grace McGregor, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary director for Area C, which includes Christina Lake, took to Facebook to discuss Hamdan moved to the area. McGregor told The Gazette that she was looking forward to meeting Hamdan in person as early as next week.
“I’m more than willing than willing to meet with anyone and to listen,” she said. “That’s who I am.”
Eighty-five Facebook posts were called into question during Hamdan’s trial, which a judge concluded may have been offensive to some people but did not constitute terrorism.
Hamdan said he authored and re-posted commentary on the on-going Civil War in Syria and that he invited activists who could also post to his timeline.
“I’m a blogger that they tried to silence,” Hamdan said.
The judge qualified that some of Hamdan’s posts, and especially his reposting of some ISIS material, did “support some of the actions of ISIS in its defence of Sunni Muslims in Iraq and Syria and promote discussion about these issues.”
The judge also accepted Hamdan’s testimony that he did not consider himself a fundamentalist jihadist and that he does not accept their ideology.
Hamdan said he would meet with anyone in Christina Lake or Grand Forks who has concerns about his plans to stay in the area, including McGregor.
A spokesperson for CBSA declined The Gazette’s request for an interview, citing agency constraints under the federal Privacy Act.
– with a file from The Canadian Press