12/21/2011 12:41 EST | Updated 02/20/2012 05:12 EST

Cynthia Vanier: Canadian Held In Mexican Gaddafi Plot Has Detention Extended

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Cynthia Vanier, a Canadian woman being held in Mexico on accusations of plotting to smuggle the son of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to that country, has had her detention extended another 40 days, according to her family.

Betty and John MacDonald tell CBC News they've been told by officials at Foreign Affairs in Ottawa that Mexican officials have decided to hold their daughter, who also goes by the name Cyndy, without charge at the Centro de Arraigos detention facility in Mexico City over Christmas, until Jan. 31st, extending provisions of her arrest orders.

Vanier, a mediator from Mount Forest Ont., was arrested November 10 while in Mexico on vacation. Three other associates — two Mexican citizens and a Danish man — were arrested the next day. All have been held without charge under Mexico's "preventative detention" laws, accused of plotting to move Saadi Gadhafi and three family members to Mexico using false identities and counterfeit travel documents.

"Our consular officials in Mexico and Canada are providing consular assistance to Ms. Vanier and her family," said John Babcock, a spokesman for Canada's minister of state of foreign affairs (Americas and consular affairs).

"Our officials at the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City are in contact with local authorities and are closely monitoring the situation," he said Wednesday.

Vanier's Toronto lawyer, Paul Copeland, and her parents call the allegations ridiculous and flatly deny any such plot. They accuse Mexican authorities of bungling and jumping to conclusions after Vanier travelled to Libya this summer on a humanitarian fact-finding mission, employing security guard Gary Peters on the trip.

Peters told CBC News he thinks Mexican officials have made a big mistake. He acknowledged that he has been on the payroll of Saadi Gadhafi as a bodyguard for many years. He said that during the spring he and Vanier discussed the possibilities of getting Saadi Gadhafi out of Libya as the United Nations slapped asset freezes and travel bans on the family of besieged Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Peters insists the idea was abandoned in June as those involved determined it would be illegal. However, Peters acknowledged he did return to Libya in September to help Saadi Gadhafi and a convoy of security forces flee to neighbouring Niger — something he said did not involve Vanier.

She travelled to Libya for 10 days in July with Peters — on behalf of the Canadian Libyan Friendship Association, with financial backing from Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin — surveying bomb sites and preparing reports on what she described as "human atrocities" against civilians involving NATO bomb targets and rebel forces.

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