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US citizen arrested in relation to Toronto G20 protest, faces extradition to Canada

New York City resident Joel Bitar charged with 26 accusations

by Tim McSorley

US citizen Joel Bitar has been arrested and faces extradition to Canada on charges related to the Toronto G20 protests in 2010. Photo: http://supportjoel.com/
US citizen Joel Bitar has been arrested and faces extradition to Canada on charges related to the Toronto G20 protests in 2010. Photo: http://supportjoel.com/

More than two-and-a-half years after the G20 protests in Toronto, a US citizen has been arrested and faces extradition to Canada.

Joel Bitar, described by supporters as "a friend, a son, a nephew, a Palestine solidarity activist, a co-worker, a prospective nursing student," was arrested on Feb. 14, 2013, at six in the morning at his home in New York City, according to the website Support Joel Bitar, which went online today. He was stopped under a warrant for his extradition to Canada on 26 charges. Most are related to accusations of property damage commited during the G20 protests in Toronto at the end of June 2010, according to the statement on the site.

On Feb. 20, Bitar was released into the custody of his parents on $500,000 bail, plus conditions including house arrest and electronic monitoring.

The extradition request for three US citizens for alleged crimes related to the Toronto G20 protests was announced in December 2010. At the time, Toronto police officer Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux, head of the city's G20 investigation squad, said that three US citizens were being sought in relation to $500,000 worth of property damages during the protests. This is the first reported arrest relating to that announcement.

The site also details the court proceedings since Bitar's arrest, including the timeline of his arrest since Giroux's 2010 announcement. It also cites the Assistant US Attorney's argument that the property damage charges against Bitar are extraditable offenses because they "endangered Canadian citizens."

It wasn't made clear how poperty damage endagered Canadians' lives, but more details may be forthcoming at Bitar's actual extradition hearing, scheduled for March 20.

Bitar's supporters describe the extradition of a protester for property damage as being "almost unprecedented in the histories of both the United States and Canada," and vow to back him in his forthcoming legal battle, promising more updates to come.

To read the full statement about Joel Bitar's arrest, click here.


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