Rodney Gillis, lawyer for Hendrik Tepper a Canadian farmer who has spent 80 plus days in a Lebanese jail, held a press conference on Parliament Hill where he asked for the Canadian Government to step in and help bring Tepper home, in Ottawa, June 21, 2011.
Credits: Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency
Hendrik "Henk" Tepper, 44, has been in a Lebanese jail for nearly three months. The farmer, who frequently exported potatoes to other countries, was detained on an international criminal warrant issued by Interpol. The warrant was issued after the Algerian government alleged Tepper forged documents to sneak unfit potatoes through customs.
Tepper, who says he had no idea Algeria issued a notice for his arrest, was detained while he was travelling on a government-funded trip to promote Canadian potato farmers in Lebanon.
Tepper's lawyer Rodney Gills says the Canadian government needs to bring him back to Canada to face charges or recognize that he did nothing wrong.
Gills says he is trying this legal route because the government hasn't responded to other calls to bring the farmer home.
Liberal senator Pierrette Ringuette, who knows Tepper personally, and Grit MP Dominic Leblanc want the government to act.
"Every element of the alleged offence occurred in Canada," Leblanc said during Tuesday's Question Period. "Why not lay the charge here, allow the Lebanese authorities to send him back to Canada, where he can clear his name and appear before a Canadian court with the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...why does the minister not do the right thing?"
Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, says the government is "concerned about this case" and will "continue to engage with senior Lebanese authorities to request due process and a timely and transparent handling of these facts."
The government has not indicated it will take further steps to bring Tepper home.