POLITICS

Winnipeg man suspected of terrorism must wear electronic bracelet

06/15/2015 03:20 EDT | Updated 06/15/2016 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg man suspected of planning terrorist activities will have to wear an electronic monitoring device and stay off the Internet for the time being.

Aaron Driver, 23, is not facing any criminal charges. But federal authorities are seeking a peace bond to limit his activities on the suspicion that he may help a terrorist group or activity.

Driver has been released on bail — with 25 conditions — until the court decides whether to issue the peace bond.

Driver must be monitored electronically around the clock. He is forbidden from owning a computer, must observe a nightly curfew and surrender his passport and any weapons.

He is also banned from possessing any items with logos or symbols of Islamic State groups, and must undergo religious counselling.

The bail conditions drew criticism from the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties.

"This is a person — a Canadian citizen — who has not been charged with a crime ... and yet he's going to be subject to 24/7 GPS monitoring," association president Corey Shefman said Monday.

"This is Canada and a judge has just told this man that he must receive counselling from a religious leader. That, frankly, is outrageous."

Published reports have said Driver posted messages on social media that praised terrorist activities, including the attack last October on Parliament Hill by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Evidence presented at Driver's bail hearing last Friday cannot be reported due to a court-ordered publication ban.

Crown attorney Ian Mahon said there have been nine other peace bonds sought against Canadians suspected of harbouring terrorist plans since 2001.

The federal government has defended the move to limit Driver's activities. Shortly after he was arrested earlier this month, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the government must combat terrorism.

"We will continue to ensure that our police forces have the tools they need to protect Canadians against this evolving threat of terrorism," Blaney's press secretary, Jeremy Laurin, wrote in an email.

Driver spent a week in custody before being released on bail. His next court date is July 9.