Henk Tepper, New Brunswick potato farmer who was being held in a Lebanese prison, was released on Friday March 30, 2012.
Credits: HANDOUT PHOTO
TORONTO -- Henk Tepper, the New Brunswick potato farmer who was held in a Lebanese prison since last March, was released Friday and will be returning to Canada Saturday afternoon.
Tepper was arrested last March on a warrant from Algeria as he entered Lebanon on a government-sponsored trade mission. Algeria charges that he attempted to import rotten potatoes into the African nation on forged documents.
New Brunswick Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette, who has been involved in the case since the Tepper family contacted her last May, told QMI Agency that she was thrilled when she received a call Friday night that Tepper was about to board a plane for Canada.
"I have no words to describe all the emotions I'm feeling," Ringuette said from her office in Ottawa just before heading to the airport to meet Tepper. "I'm sure his family is feeling the same way."
She said she took up his case because "as a politician, we need to be responsible for our citizens" and because she was curious about "the different rumours surrounding the case.
"So, I started to do my research and the facts confirmed that Henk had done nothing wrong," she said. "His detention was absolutely misguided."
Ringuette says Henk's release was the accumulation of a year of constant representation from Team Tepper; the Tepper family, herself and Senator Mac Harb, and lawyers Jim Mockler and Joe Karam.
"Our persistence paid off," she said proudly.
When Ringuette and Harb visited Tepper last December, they reported he had lost 40 lbs. At the time, they said his health was quickly deteriorating and could worsen unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped in to take up his case directly.
She said she couldn't comment on the status of his health, adding only that Tepper's priority is "catching up with his family and regaining his health."