NEWS

Deportation of Iranian defector's mother halted

01/05/2012 03:55 EST | Updated 03/06/2012 05:12 EST

A Federal Court judge has temporarily halted the deportation of the mother of an alleged former employee of Iran's nuclear program, after both women defected and fled to Canada.

A Jan. 4 decision by Justice Michel Shore, posted on the Federal Court website, grants a stay of execution on an immigration removal order of the unnamed woman, pending a judicial review of her case.

The woman's daughter claims to have been an employee of the state organization responsible for Iran's controversial nuclear program, which many fear is developing weapons as well as energy-producing capabilities.

Shore's order says that "the controversy in regard to Iran's nuclear program and intentions have a direct (internal and external) bearing on this case."

Documents from the court's file are not being made public at the request of both parties in the case to treat all matters as confidential. The defectors are referred to in the decision only as "X," and no other identifying information is contained in the order.

The application to the court claimed both women would be endangered if the mother was removed from Canada.

In the order, Shore wrote that "the whereabouts of the daughter would potentially be exposed if she (the mother) would be returned to Iran and, thereby, allegedly be tortured by authorities of the Iranian regime who would do all they could to ensure that she would provide the whereabouts information in regard to her daughter, at a risk to both their lives, and, allegedly, at a risk to the lives of other members of X's family, inside and outside of Iran."

The judge's order notes another family member has allegedly already been abducted by Iranian authorities. It's not specified whether this alleged abduction took place in Iran.

The court order suggests that "more is unknown in this matter than is known," so Canadian authorities "need to ensure for themselves that they are aware of all aspects (internal and external) of the matter, due to the sensitivity of the issues prior to making a decision."

Shore suggests his decision in favour of the applicant "may, also, favour the interests of the Canadian authorities, examining the matter further outside of the judiciary."

A judicial review of the government's assessment of the risk the woman faces if deported to Iran is currently underway.

A CBC News request for more information or comment from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's office was not immediately answered.

Speaking on an Alberta radio program Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that he thinks Iran is "the world's most serious threat to international peace and security."

"This is a regime that wants to acquire nuclear weapons ... and has indicated some desire to actually use nuclear weapons," Harper said.

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