Innocent Canadian Charged as Terrorist Blames U.S. for Forcing Canada to Increase Terrorism Prosecutions
By June Williams, Courthouse News Service
SEATTLE (CN) — The Canadian government destroyed a young executive's life by falsely accusing her of being a terrorist and selling illegal military technology to China, she claims in a $21 million federal complaint.
Perienne de Jaray managed U.S. operations for her father's company, Apex Canada, when Canadian Customs seized circuit board assemblies it was shipping to Hong Kong in 2008.
In 2010, Canada charged de Jaray and her father, Steve de Jaray, with two counts of exporting controlled goods based on falsified information, according to the complaint.
Canada filed the charges after the United States threatened to withhold trade concessions unless Canada stepped up prosecution of allegedly illegal military exports, de Jaray says in the lawsuit.
All criminal charges were dismissed in 2011 after an independent expert consulting firm reported the seized goods were legal for export.
De Jaray sued the Canadian government on April 19, seeking more than $21 million for false arrest, negligence and violation of the Alien Tort Statute.
De Jaray, a Canadian citizen, was 26 and living in Bellingham, Wash., when the investigation began.
"Ms. de Jaray, a bright, intelligent executive living in Bellingham, Washington, was pregnant and soon to be married when the Government of Canada and the Canadian individual defendants destroyed her life by labeling her as a terrorist on the basis of falsified evidence and a negligent or reckless investigation," the complaint states.
De Jaray says she was "collateral damage" in Canada's attempt to curry favor with the United States.
"In 2009, the Government of Canada began targeting its own citizens in order to create the perception that Canada was 'tough on crime' and, in particular, terrorism, to win favor with the United States and secure contracts for military goods and services," the complaint states.
Canadian Customs confiscated the shipment of electronics, saying the items were "dual-use" and on the export control list.
Dual-use goods have a civilian use as well as a particular military use.
De Jaray says defendant Patrick Liska, working for the defendant Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, falsely reported the electronics were restricted.
"(T)he Government of Canada and the Canadian individual defendants also transmitted the falsified First Liska Report to the United States Government, including the FBI, in order to induce the FBI to investigate Ms. de Jaray," the complaint states. "The FBI opened an investigation based on misrepresentations from the Government of Canada and the Canadian individual defendants."
After Canadian Customs inspector Kevin Varga used Liska's report to justify a search warrant for Steve de Jaray's home and Apex Canada's premises, Customs manager George Webb told the U.S. and Canadian governments ,"This company has to be shut down," according to the complaint.
Both Varga and Webb are named as defendants.
The complaint continues: "The Government of Canada and the Canadian individual defendants proceeded to contact top level key customers and vendors of Apex, including Boeing, Rockwell Collins, GMA, and Lattice. The defendants also interrogated current and former employees numerous times, scaring most of them into leaving the company for fear of being connected to the alleged terroristic activity and arms dealing. The Government of Canada and the Canadian individual defendants repeatedly revealed confidential details about their negligent or reckless investigation to the key customers and employees of Apex as part of the plan to 'shut down' the company. Upon information and belief, the Government of Canada and the Canadian individual defendants threatened those interviewed with criminal charges if they were to disclose the fact that they had been contacted."
A year into the investigation, officials decided to charge Perienne de Jaray despite having no evidence against her, she says.
"(O)n the morning of May 5, 2010, officers armed with heavy weapons and dressed in military gear seized Ms. de Jaray at a public gas station in a shopping center, screaming at her and causing her to be terrified. Varga was the lead officer who handed Ms. de Jaray an indictment for criminal charges.
"Ms. de Jaray was five months pregnant at the time and had been caring for her mother after chemotherapy for breast cancer. Unbeknownst to Ms. de Jaray, Varga and the armed guards had been sitting outside Ms. de Jaray's mother's house before they followed Ms. de Jaray to a crowded area to surround her, terrorize her, publically humiliate her, and serve her with the indictment," the complaint states.
De Jaray says she suffered contractions due to the confrontation and was rushed to the hospital, fearing she was going into premature labor.
Criminal charges were filed against her on May 28, 2010 and the Canadian government issued an international press release suggesting de Jaray and her father were "terrorists who posed a threat to international security," according to the complaint.
De Jaray says her father's company shut down during the investigation, she lost her job, her home went into foreclosure and she was forced to move back to Canada.
In 2011, Canada dropped all charges against de Jaray and her father.
Steve de Jaray sued the Canadian government in 2011, saying his company went bankrupt and he lost millions due to the wrongful prosecution. In 2015, he settled for more than $10 million, according to an investigative report by CTV Television Network.
According to settlement terms, de Jaray is prevented from disclosing the amount he was paid.
"I can't discuss the settlement, but I don't think there is any question that the economics of this on him was in the millions of dollars. The conduct of the government in this case happened to economically destroy someone who was a proven success," de Jaray's attorney Howard Mickelson told CTV.
The CTV investigation revealed a secret U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks that Mickelson said sheds light on why the de Jarays were targeted.
The cable details a meeting held in Ottawa the year before the de Jarays' arrest. At the meeting, then-U.S. Undersecretary of State Frank Ruggiero told Canadian officials that Canada would not get trade concessions on defense products unless they increased prosecution of illegal exports of U.S. military technology, according to CTV.
According to the cable released by WikiLeaks, Ruggiero told the Canadian officials: "until the price to be paid for export control violations is the same in Canada as it is in the U.S. — prison — adversaries will persist in abusing Canada as a venue from which they can illegally procure and export U.S. defense technologies."
Perienne de Jaray says the Canadian government never apologized to her for the wrongful charges.
"Ms. de Jaray was eventually forced to leave her home in the state of Washington as a result of the aggressive and relentless activity of the FBI at the insistence of the Government of Canada, its agents, and the Canadian individual defendants. Ms. De Jaray lost her home, her business, her savings, her health, and her L1A Visa that allowed her to live, work, and travel in the United States as a result.
"Ms. de Jaray's life was destroyed, and her husband and children were put in jeopardy without evidence and without reason," the complaint states.
Defendants include the attorney general of Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency, Global Affairs Canada fka Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Webb, Varga and Liska.
De Jaray's charges include, intentional infliction of emotional distress and outrage.
She is represented by Janis Puracal with Maloney Lauersdorf Reiner, in Portland, Ore
To Learn More:
Muslim Sales Manager Marked as Terror Suspect for Encouraging Staff to “Blow Away” Competition at New York Trade Show (by Matt Bewig and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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