Three years ago, Matthew Paul DeHart appeared on the verge of starting an education at Holland College in P.E.I.
Then all hell broke loose.
Post Media news reports that after DeHart was arrested in April by the Canada Border Services Agency, six detention reviews were held in private. After finally being released, a confidentiality order was issued by the Federal Court of Canada, which has now been lifted.
According to Post Media, the Canadian government opposed DeHart’s release, claiming he is a danger to the public and involved in espionage and the Minister of Public Safety unsuccessfully appealed when his release was granted.
The National Post notes DeHart was charged in the U.S. with production and transportation of child pornography.
In 2010, DeHart was arrested at the U.S. border trying to return to Charlottetown, where The Guardian has learned he had plans to take courses at Holland College. RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar says he can’t find any P.E.I. RCMP files on DeHart but adds that he believes the man had been living in Charlottetown.
In order to process his student visa, DeHart reportedly had to leave Canada and apply at the border. In August, he took a bus from Charlottetown to Calais, Maine, and crossed the border back to St. Stephen, N.B. on foot.
He was stopped at the border and arrested on a charge of possession and distribution of child pornography.
DeHart, a 29-year-old American, fled to Canada earlier this year with his parents and sought refugee protection, claiming that he faces the possibility of persecution back home because of his affiliation with the online hacking group Anonymous.
The bizarre details are contained in a just-released Federal Court of Canada ruling upholding an immigration decision to release him from custody while he awaits a decision on his admissibility to the country.
DeHart, who is from Newburgh, Ind., was indicted by a grand jury in Tennessee in October 2010 on charges of production and transportation of child pornography.
The charges have not been proven in court.
In May 2012, DeHart was allowed to be released from custody in Tennessee while awaiting trial. He subsequently fled to Canada with his parents in April of this year and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to Canadian federal court documents, DeHart claims to be a member of the online hacking collective known as Anonymous and had access to what he believed to be a leaked U.S. government document related to national security, Post Media reports. He claims that the child pornography investigation is a “cover” for the U.S. government’s attempts to retrieve this document and investigate him for espionage, according to the court documents.
DeHart is seeking refugee protection in Canada on the basis he fears persecution if returned to the U.S. He alleges that while in custody in the U.S., he was “drugged, subjected to psychological torture and questioned by FBI agents” in relation to national security. His parents have also filed for refugee protection.
DeHart had been in the custody of Canadian authorities since April on the grounds that he posed a danger to the public and was a flight risk.
But on Aug. 7, an Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator granted DeHart’s release after his parents posted a $10,000 bond and DeHart agreed to be under house arrest around the clock, apparently in the Toronto area, while being monitored with a GPS device. He also agreed not to access the Internet.
Last week, a federal judge upheld the immigration adjudicator’s decision to release DeHart in response to a request from the federal public safety minister for a judicial review.