Saturday, November 26, 2011

If You have a Rocketry Hobby, You are a "Terrorist"

Here is an article in The Toronto Star along with an hour long interview with the police of Byron Sonne, a person arrested in 2010 for "plotting" against the G20 meeting in Toronto. He has been held in jail for 329 days because (a) he had been spotted taking a picture of the fence constructed around the G20 site from which they got a warrant and raided his house and (b) found "explosives" which are in fact propellant for the rockets.

He belongs to the Canadian Association of Rocketry. Having a hobby of shooting rockets has become the "foundation" of the case for arresting him as a "terrorist".

If you watch the video, you should find it absolutely incredible that the cops have held this guy in jail. He is obviously innocent:

I find it really sleazy how this cop pretends to be empathic with Byron. It is pretty clear to me that this guy is manipulating Byron.

To give you an idea of the "quality" of the police work going behind holding this guy for over a year in jail is shown by this bit in the article:
Giggles arose from the body of the court when Bui asked Sonne about a mysterious powder.

“And this white substance in the fridge?”

“That is almond flour,” Sonne replies.

Sonne’s judge-alone trial is expected to begin in earnest sometime next week.
It is incredible that the legal system in Canada lets the police hold people when the policing is obviously that incompetent!

Here is a bit from Maclean's magazine, one of the premier news magazines in Canada:
Byron Sonne is a shlemiel and a shlemazl. He is clumsy and unlucky. But he is not a terrorist.

Driven by curiosity, hubris, and a genuine desire for social justice, Sonne poked and prodded the $1.2 billion “security apparatus” of the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto. He wanted to know if it was in fact just “security theater”–an expensive display of pomp and barbed wire that would never thwart an actual terrorist. Simultaneously, he wanted to know if it was too effective, if the heightened atmosphere around the summit meant that police were forgetting people’s rights. And he wanted us to know too, so he documented everything he did.

Sonne, who goes by TorontoGoat on Twitter, offered himself as a sacrificial lamb–a hapless animal who pooped on the cops via the Internet. His experiment was scattershot–he uploaded incendiary political texts of every nature to test if he was being surveilled. He flexed his freedom of speech by calling police “bacon” on Twitter. He tweeted about how the $9.4 million security fence could easily be climbed, but did not exactly say that it should be. All of this would likely have gone unnoticed if @torontogoat hadn’t clomped around the fence perimeter, shooting video. Taking pictures is not a crime, so the cops, unable to charge him with anything, threatened to take him in for jaywalking as an excuse to see his I.D. He complied with this “ruse,” as the authorities themselves have since described it, and that’s what brought the full force of law enforcement down on his head. When the cops finally googled Sonne, they went to town on him. He was surveilled, searched, arrested, questioned for 12 hours without a lawyer, and thrown in jail. Sonne spent 11 months locked up, awaiting bail. During that time his wife (also arrested, charges since dropped) left him.

So there’s your shlemiel–Byron the clumsy. As for the unlucky shlemazl, let’s consider the most serious charges Sonne faces during his trial, which continues today: four counts of “possessing explosive materials.” During their search of his Forest Hill home, police found chemicals that can be used to make explosives. That’s not so unusual–most of us have chemicals in our homes that can be used to make explosives. But actually whipping them up into something volatile may get you into serious trouble. It’s hard to imagine a good reason to do so, unless you’re trying to make some homebrew rocket fuel.

Sonne’s hobby? Model rocketry.
And from Maclean's, some questions about the police "case" against Byron Sonne:
Details of the courtroom proceedings in Sonne’s case are subject to a publication ban. As such, coverage of his case has been limited. Toronto Life published a cover story giving many details of Sonne’s life and activities leading up to his arrest. But once the ban is lifted, the real questions won’t be about what Sonne did—they’ll be about how the police and the Crown have behaved in this extraordinary case.

Here are some I’ll be asking:

-Why was Sonne, who has no prior criminal record, twice denied bail and held for over 10 months?

-Was he considered a flight risk or a danger to anyone?

-If so, what’s different now?

-Before his arrest, did the police trick Sonne into handing over his I.D. by threatening him with a jaywalking charge?

-Why was Sonne’s (now-estranged) wife also arrested and charged?

-Did the weapons charges (since dropped) refer solely to Sonne’s homemade potato gun?

-If so—really?

-Do the explosives charges refer solely to legal substances Sonne bought for gardening and toy rockets?

-If so—really?

-Why was Sonne hit with the obscure charge (since dropped) of ”intimidating justice system officials,” which is meant to prevent accused criminals from stalking or threatening judges, lawyers and jurors?

-Did it refer to Sonne’s online description of police on bicycles as “bacon on wheels”?

-If so—really?

-If it turns out that Sonne was simply a provocateur and geek who never posed a threat to anyone, at what point did the police and Crown learn this?

-If they knew this all along, why did they continue to imprison and prosecute him?

-And if so, who will answer for the loss of his freedom, the destruction of his career, and the dissolution of his marriage?

Byron Sonne may well turn out to be a guy who taunted and teased a starving, unchained guard dog to see how it would react. Maybe a guy like that is a fool, maybe he is brave—maybe he’s both. Maybe it’s not important.

The real questions are about the dog: why was it starving for meat? Why was it unchained? Thanks to Sonne, we may soon find out.

If you want a sense of how "guilty" Byron was of being a "mad bomber", consider this pointed comment in an article by Denise Balkissoon in OpenFile:
We're happy to tell you that this week, when speaking about the search-and-seizure in Sonne's home, Byrne referenced the computer security consultant's interest in science. One of the police officers on the stand, Alvin Maniquis, spoke about authorizing his team to take books on physics and chemistry.

"Essentially," said Byrne,"[Sonne]'s got a home lab, related books and documentation. He's got chemistry equipment....admittedly, they had not been put together."

So, now you know: three days before the start of the G20 summit, when arrested for possessing explosives meant to disrupt that summit, Sonne hadn't set up his beakers and bunsen burners.

That's all for now.
Yep... the police have "caught" a mad bomber with intent to blow up half of Toronto, but 3 days before the event, this "bomber" hasn't yet put any chemicals together. Funny. It would require an almost industrial scale operation to generate the hundreds (if not thousands!) of pounds of high explosives needed to seriously disrupt a G20 conference. But here is a "bomber" who hasn't mixed any chemicals and has nothing stockpiled. There is no proof that he ever tried to mix up an explosive batch. So the government's case is that he "had the books and come equipment and some chemicals". Well... under those stringent requirements the RCMP should have arrested every professor in all the universities and colleges in Canada in early 2010. They certainly had books, and equipment, and materials.

This is a completely daft case where the police have a vendetta against a guy who decided to beard the police by showing up the billion dollars of Canadian citizens money had not bought any real security but instead funded a lot of "security theatre" and a lot of booty for politicians to build stuff in this constituencies during this time period and stamp it as "security". From Wikipedia:
Members of Parliament Olivia Chow and Mark Holland labelled the initially claimed budget of $1.1-billion for hosting the summits as "obscene" and "insane" while others argued that the money could have been used for long-pending municipal projects in Canada, such as Toronto's Transit City. The security cost for the two summits was believed to be more expensive than the combined security costs of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, which were $878 million. However, according to final calculations from the House of Commons of Canada as of October 2010, the exact cost for holding both summits was $857,901,850.31, making it less expensive than the security costs for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
If the RCMP wanted to go after some criminals, they should have arrested Prime Minister Harper, his cabinet, and most of his caucus. They have robbed Canadians of nearly $1 billion in order to put on a big wing-ding party for big-wigs. Meanwhile, there is unemployment, poverty, and underdevelopment in Canada. That money would have been better spent feeding the hungry, providing free education for pre-schooler and college kids, and day care for working parents. Instead, it was criminally wasted. And a pook patsy like Byron Sonne has been absolutely crucified as a "criminal". His only "crime" was his ignorance about the depth of corruption and mean-heartedness in the politicians and the police, and the cold-heartedness and suspicious minds of old farts sitting as judges and acting a Crown prosecutors.

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