Yesterday, Byron Sonne, the only person still being held on G20-related charges, was finally granted bail after spending almost a year in jail. The Crown is prosecuting Sonne aggressively, and will characterize him at trial (to begin no sooner than this fall) as a dangerous radical as they attempt to prove explosives charges against the Forest Hill computer security expert.
Sonne, with whom I’ve corresponded throughout his time in prison, sees himself as a civil libertarian who tested the billion dollar “security theatre” protecting the G20. Sonne says he wanted to see if and how it worked, and to see if any citizen’s rights would be violated in the process.
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?
-Do the explosives charges refer solely to legal substances Sonne bought for gardening and toy rockets?
-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 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.