Byron Sonne in his own words

You can beat the system--but it comes at enormous personal cost

Left: Pat Hewitt/CP Middle: Aaron Vincent Elkaim/CP Right: Aaron Vincent Elkaim/CP

Last week Byron Sonne was cleared of four explosives charges and one charge of counseling mischief. I’ve been covering his case since his arrest almost two years ago. I corresponded with Byron during his 11-month stint in jail and I asked him a few questions last week when he received his vindicating verdict. Until yesterday, though, I had never had a real conversation with him about his ordeal.

The extensive interview will run on an upcoming episode of my podcast. Here are some highlights:

On what he hoped to learn by “testing the system” by buying sensitive chemicals and posting controversial texts to the Internet:

“I wanted to discover how things actually work.”

On Detective Tam Bui, the police interrogator who told him “the onus is on you” to prove his innocence:

“I don’t know that they were after the truth as much as they just really wanted a confession.”

On the unwillingness of the police to accept that he was not a terrorist:

“You can’t say anything to help yourself in that situation. If you say ‘I love my mother,’ they’ll make a note: ‘loves his mother, willing to kill for her’. “

On the Crown’s argument that his model rocketry and gardening hobbies and his online documentation of his experiment were all part of an “elaborate alibi”:

“I’m nowhere near intelligent enough to lie that well for that long.”

On why he was held in jail longer than any other G20 detainee:

“It was an 11-month punishment. They definitely want to make examples out of people.”

On his intention to file civil lawsuits against the Crown and the police:

“I am more interested in them apologizing than in getting a whole bunch of money from them. But my lawyers tell me you stand a better chance of getting 50 million dollars out of the government than an apology. I have a responsibility to my fellow citizens to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else and the best way to do that is to beat the crap out of them in a court of law.”

On the point of his ordeal:

“That a person can challenge the system and win. But it comes at enormous personal cost.”

Jesse Brown is the host of’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown