More absurdity in the trial of G20 hacker, Byron Sonne

Denise Balkissoon continues her excellent coverage of the trial of Byron Sonne, the Toronto security researcher who was arrested and prosecuted (persecuted, even) after publishing material about the security theater entailed by the G20's $1.2B, draconian policing plan. As Sonne's trial progresses, the absurdity of the case against him becomes clearer and clearer.

For those interested in the spirit of the law, the trial ranges from farcical to frustrating. Section 11 of the Charter guarantees the right to a speedy trial, and it’s already been 18 months since Sonne was first arrested. On November 17, Crown Attorney Elizabeth Nadeau requested permission to re-interview an explosions expert from Defence Research and Development Canada who testified during the preliminary trial in February. Nadeau wanted to ask questions about Sonne’s model rocketry hobby, based on a piece in Toronto Life (full disclosure: written by this same reporter). Spies became annoyed, asking why the Crown was mentioning this now when the article was published in the spring. She then sighed and began looking at her calendar. The criminal trial could be delayed until February, possibly later.

That model rocketry might explain the chemicals in Sonne’s house isn’t a new idea to the Crown: it’s what Sonne has been saying ever since his arrest. Most of the week was spent discussing when the accused first spoke with his lawyer. On the stand this past week, a number of police officers testified that Sonne was denied a phone call for hours because they didn’t want him to call an accomplice who would set off an explosion. All of them also said that he told them about his interest in building model rocket engines.

Perhaps that’s not a plausible answer. It certainly wasn’t for Detective Tam Bui, who questioned Sonne at length both before and after he had spoken with his lawyers. In two interrogation videos taken in June 2010 and shown in court this week (one you can see here), Bui doesn’t accept any of Sonne’s explanations for the contents of his house. Bui asks about a white powder in the fridge; Sonne says it’s almond flour. Bui asks about a tray full of rocks and crystals, “that’s kitty litter, officer,” Sonne says. Bui asks about various chemicals; Sonne tells him that he makes model rockets and is an "amateur farmer."

Lies and Videotape: Byron Sonne trial continues



  1. Q. What’s this mysterious liquid in your refrigerator?
    A. Coca-Cola, officer.

    Q. And these wrapped packages under this tree? Are they bombs?
    A. They’re Christmas presents, officer.

    Etc., etc.

    1. Q. And what are these?
      A. Cold packs that I purchased to get Ammonium Nitrate to use in my amateur farm experiments…

      Some of the answers are pretty outrageous too.

  2. It got a little crazy for the G20. Not many Canadian’s are very proud of that fact I don’t think. I know I am not. It was mismanaged every which way, and then they elected a majority government for the guy that was in charge.  He’s no George W Bush, but is really makes me wonder at times what motivates some people to vote the way they do.

    In any event, I see this being resolved eventually, a civil suit filed, a settlement made with a NDA attached to it as well as several million bucks of tax payer money.

    Sounds like they are trying desperately to save face but the effort looks futile to me. The only results being a Canadian citizen having his rights stomped all over, and then the likely compensation from the government after the fact.

    These NDA and government really bother me, as it isn’t transparent use of taxpayer money, and is not accountable in the least. Politicians don’t like being embarressed or having this stuff pushed in their face during election time. They all talk about accountability and transparency, but all those things really are to them are sound bites for the potential voters.

  3. They also arrested a guy on his way out of town with cans of gasoline and a chain saw in the back of his pickup: ie. someone going up to the cottage for the weekend.  If they manage to convict Sonne of anything it will push their conviction rate for the biggest mass arrests in Canadian history up to almost 2%.  Glad to see that the government has an infinite amount of money to spend as it pleases.  I guess there’ll be no trouble in full Federal financing for any number of projects here in Toronto since they’re so flush.

    Trials going on forever and a day in Ontario is nothing new.  If the case is even slightly complex it’s way over the heads of the Crown Attorneys and large swathes of accused are routinely freed without trial once their court dates start getting pushed years into the future. The most notorious case is that of the Central Command Drug Squad.  Detective Sgt. Shirtzer and the boys were all fired and accused of beating up the local drug dealers in order to rob them.  10 years later the Crown had yet to file their paperwork on the case and it was dismissed.  Sarge is now suing the municipal government for back pay and damages of over 10 million dollars.  A suit that the municipal government will likely have to pay out on due to the incompetence of the Federal government.  Unlike the DA system in the States our Crown Attorneys are unelected and are accountable to no one.  If you’re a bit too public in your criticism of them you’ll get hit with a “bringing the administration of justice into disrepute” charge to shut you up.

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