Matt DeHart, an American who believes the United States is pursuing sham child-porn charges against him as cover for a national security investigation, has been ordered deported from Canada.
In a decision made public Tuesday, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada concluded “reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. DeHart committed offences in the United States,” making him inadmissible to Canada — nevertheless, he will remain in Canada for the time being as there are ongoing proceedings that prevent immediate deportation.
The 30-year-old faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of child pornography charges in Tennessee.
“We are disappointed with the admissibility decision regarding Matt especially considering the voluminous amount of documentation and personal testimony we submitted,” Paul and Leann DeHart, Matt’s parents, said in a statement. “Our son is innocent of the charges against him in the U.S. and is a victim of torture.”
An early member of the hacker group Anonymous, Mr. DeHart said that six years ago he came across sensitive government documents uploaded to one of his servers detailing an FBI investigation into select practices by the CIA.
He deleted the file, but several months later the DeHart family’s Newburgh, Indiana, home was stripped of all its electronic equipment in a police raid searching for child pornography.
Mr. DeHart faces child-pornography charges in Tennessee for allegedly posing as a teenaged girl to trick teenaged boys into sending him explicit photos and videos of themselves.
He denies the charges, claiming they are a ruse to crack down on Anonymous and to pursue the sensitive security file. “I don’t have child pornography on my stuff,” Mr. DeHart told the National Post earlier this year. “From that moment, I knew they wanted my server and they wanted information related to Anonymous.”
After attempting to seek asylum at the Russian and Venezuelan embassies — and then spending several months studying in Canada — Mr. DeHart was subjected to an intensive espionage interrogation after crossing the Maine-New Brunswick border.
During this interrogation, Mr. DeHart claims his jailers tortured him using methods including sleep deprivation, the forced administration of intravenous drugs, and being strapped naked in a submission chair.
In the decision by the IRB, board member Mary Heyes acknowledged there has been “some sort of security investigation against Mr. DeHart,” but said there were “troubling, unanswered questions” in the DeHart family’s version of events.
“I have not been presented with a plausible explanation as to why the investigating detective, the district attorney, the grand jury and the victims and their families would fabricate and present false evidence to the courts in the United States,” Ms. Heyes wrote.
On Tuesday, Mr. DeHart’s lawyer, Lily Tekle, said her client was “exploring his legal options” and remained hopeful he could get a favourable decision via other avenues in Canada.