TORONTO - A Pakistani man accused of planning bomb attacks on downtown Toronto needs help from his country given that he is likely to be kept in solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, his lawyer said Thursday.
That's the reason for appealing to Pakistan to help Jahanzeb Malik, who is currently incarcerated in the jail in Lindsay, Ont., pending what is expected to be an inadmissibility hearing and deportation, Anser Farooq said.
"It is incumbent on the Pakistani government to ensure the health, well-being and safety of its citizen," Farooq said.
"They cannot not and ought not just sit on the fence. We expect they will assist Mr. Malik in securing swift, safe passage and residence in Pakistan."
Ottawa has steadfastly refused to say why it has chosen to follow the immigration route — with its lower standard of proof — rather than prosecute Malik criminally as it has done frequently with other accused terrorist.
Canada Border Services Agency arrested the flooring contractor March 9 following an undercover RCMP operation and he has been in detention since.
"Mr. Malik is kept in confinement for all but 15 minutes a day," Farooq said. "He is isolated."
At previous detention-review hearings, a federal government lawyer said the permanent resident, who came to Canada as a student in 2004, talked about blowing up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto's financial district and videotaping the attacks to inspire others.
Without presenting any evidence, the lawyer told the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing that Malik tried to radicalize the undercover officer by showing him videos apparently of Islamic State beheadings and expressed support for al-Qaida.
In opting to keep him in custody, the board members presiding over the hearings determined Malik, a permanent resident since 2009, to be a flight risk and a public danger.
"The prospects of his release are none," Farooq said.
"Prolonged incarceration and isolation is inevitable given that the Canadian government has chosen to detain him under immigration law."
Farooq, who argues that only criminal prosecution would allow any evidence to be properly tested in court, said the mental and emotional health of his client is of utmost importance given that he could remain confined for months ahead of likely deportation.
For that reason, he said, he wrote last month to Pakistan's consul general in Toronto to urge help for springing Malik from detention and helping him get back to Pakistan.
Pakistani officials responded to his letter by phone on Wednesday — after reporters began asking for information, he said.
Farooq said he was hoping to connect with the officials, who did not return repeated requests for comment, at some point on Thursday.
Malik, a divorced father of two, is slated for another detention review on Tuesday.